By Arun Joshi, CIMMYT
Twenty young scientists from India and Nepal learned about existing and up-and-coming wheat breeding tools during a training program last month. Continuing earlier training programs initiated during the last few wheat crop cycles in India, the Global Wheat Program in South Asia organized the three-day “ICAR-CIMMYT Molecular Breeding Course in Wheat” from 25 to 27 August. It took place at the Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in Karnal.
The training was for young scientists from different wheat research stations of India involved in a BMZ-funded project to increase the productivity of wheat under rising temperatures and water scarcity in South Asia. The training program attendees’ enhanced understanding of existing molecular tools for wheat breeding as well as emerging tools such as genomic selection. “Molecular tools will play an increasing role in wheat breeding to meet challenges in coming decades,” said Indu Sharma, director of DWR in Karnal. The program covered both theory and practice on the use of molecular makers in wheat breeding, especially those related to vernalization, photoperiodism and earliness per se, which could be used to enhance early heat tolerance. Practical sessions in the molecular laboratory of DWR focused on extraction of DNA, quantification and quality control of DNA, polymerase chain reaction polymerase chain reaction amplification and electrophoresis.
During various sessions, the instructors explained the steps of molecular tools to be used for such work. The participants tested their new scoring skills during an exercise which involved scoring the bands and cross-verifying results. Laboratory procedures on safety were also explained. CIMMYT wheat breeder Arun Joshi and Vinod Tiwari, principal scientist and principal investigator of crop improvement for DWR in Karnal, coordinated the training under the WHEAT CRP Strategic Initiative 6 (enhanced heat and drought tolerance). Indian resource participants included Ratan Tiwari, P.K. Gupta, Vinod Tiwari and a team of molecular scientists including Rajender Singh, Rekha Malik, Sonia Sheoran and Pradeep Sharma from DWR, Karnal. The CIMMYT scientists involved were Susanne Dreisigacker and Arun Joshi while the practical lessons were organized and led by Tiwari and Dreisigacker. A laboratory manual “ICAR-CIMMYT molecular breeding course in wheat” was also developed for the course, which was later released in the All India Wheat and Barley Workers meeting.