Plant Biotechnology

1. Transformation Of Tomato With Salt Stress Resistance Gene

Abiotic stress like salinity is a major factor that significantly limits crop growth and productivity. It has been shown that various salt stress responsive genes participate in salt stress tolerance. Generation of transgenic plants with genes resistance to salt stress can greatly improve plant salinity tolerance. Plant specific kinases and transcription factors (TFs) play an important role in this regard. Genetic engineering of agriculturally important crops such as tomato for salt tolerance holds promising application. Local cultivar tomato ex-plant will be used for transformation of tomato plant with salt stress resistance gene. Once transformed with salt tolerance gene, tomato ex-plants will be put on different combination of rooting and shooting hormone concentration for tomato ex-plant growth. This will result in tomato plant growth and regeneration. The regenerated plantlets will be tested for presence of salt stress resistant gene and stress tolerance. The regenerated plantlets will be transferred to the green house to be planted in soil. This work will form the basis for transformation and development of transgenic salt stress resistance lines in local tomato variety. This study can be used for improved abiotic stress trait in tomato crop that will greatly benefit the agriculture industry of Pakistan

Project Members
  • Dr. Ayesha  Baig
  • 2. Induction Of Transgenerational Epigenetic Variation For The Drought Tolerant Tomato Production.

    Pakistan exports tomato, an important vegetable crop, to different areas of the world and generates valuable revenue. But per hector yield is low compared to other countries. One reason is the inability of tomato varieties to cope with the stresses plant face in the field. Drought is an important stress. Plant breeders, over last fifty years, have used the available genetic diversity to develop improved varieties but have ignored epigenetic diversity. Recently, trangenerational nature of epigenetic modifications especially DNA methylation have been reported meaning that the induced change in the DNA methylation pattern can be transmitted to next generations. Therefore, in the proposed study, the shift in the DNA methylation pattern will be chemically induced and then the plants will be screened for the phenotypes of agronomic interest under drought stress. These plants will be studied phenotypically as well as epi-genotypically to identify the regions where these epi-mutations have occurred and then their transgenerational transmission will be evaluated. The plants with the stable transgenerational epi-mutations will be recommended to the breeders as well as for commercial use subjected to field trials.


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 NRPU/HEC no logo 4.442 Million Rupee


    Project Members
  • Dr. Abdul Rehman Khan
  • 3. Use Of Clean Technology To Convert Industrial Wastes Into Valuable Biomedical Materials By Micro-Organisms

    Industrial waste is a major environmental problem in Pakistan and worldwide. There are different kinds of industrial waste which cause the pollution and may leads hazardous effects on the environment, health, agriculture, marine life and various others. Clean technology is an idea to recover and reuse the wastefor other purposes providing added value and many advantages. Taking this idea the industrial waste can be converted into highly valuable products including bio-ethanol many others. Recently, our group had discovered that some industrial wastes can be use as growth media for bacteria to produce bacterial cellulose (BC). BC is a biopolymer produced by a class of acetic acid bacteria, has received tremendous interest in various sectors including biomedical fields owing to its specific physico-mechanical properties. The unique properties of BC include a high water-holding capacity, slow water release rate, high crystallinity, biocompatibility, biodegradability, ultrafine web-shaped fiber network structure and the possibility to be molded into various forms during production. These intrinsic properties make BC excellent for industrial application especially in medical sciences.Moreover,the BC-nano-reinforced composite films can be made with superior activities. Therefore, we propose the current study to produce highly valuable biomedical material BC from wastes including sugar, juice, food and various other industrial wastes under static and shaking conditions by the use of micro-organisms.  The production of BC from chemically defined Hestrin–Schramm (HS) medium will be considered as control. The chemical structure of BC samples will be confirmed through Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and X-ray crystallography (XRD) diffraction analysis. Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FE-SEM) analysis will be performed to know about the fibril arrangement. Water holding capacity, mechanical and thermal properties will also be studied. The successful completion of this study will provide a base for the use of clean technology in Pakistan. Overall, this study will use clean technology to convert waste into highly valuable medical product which will improve wastes management and health condition of local community through reducing pollution and providing biomedical material. It will also better the economic condition by providing cheap source biomedical materials which will reduce financial burden on the health care system of the country.


    Project Funding
     Funding Body Funds
    1 CUI no logo 0.15 Million Rupee


    Project Members
  • Shahid Masood Shah
  • 4. Evaluation, Adaptation Studies And Popularization Of Kiwi Fruit In Different Ecologies (Upper And Lower Altitudes) Of Hazara Division

    Currently there are several kiwifruit cultivars belonging to Actinidiadeliciosa and Actinidia chinensis that have great genetic variation and are available for research and cultivation purposes.  This natural variation may be reflected in their differences in growth and adaptation to different environmental conditions.  In addition to other characteristic the genotypes belonging to these two groups are mostly separated vertically along the altitude with A. deliciosa usually adapted to higher and colder altitude at 800 to 1400 m and sometimes up to 1950 meters above sea level (MASL).  Contrarily,   A. chinensis mostly occurs at lower altitude between 200 to 900 MASL,   but can also be found at altitude as high as 1200 MASL.  A.deliciosa generally grows in area with low annual rainfall (600-1600 mm) and low relative humidity (60 to 80%) as compared toA. chinensis species that mostly grow in areas with higher annual rainfall (1000 to 2000 mm) and high relative humidity (75 to 85%).

    Plant ecologists agree that the adaptation and distribution of plant species is strongly influenced by climate and in particular temperature and moisture regime. Variation in altitude often causes of changes in climatic factors including temperature, pre­cipitation, light intensity and nature of soil, which make the growing environment of plants more complex. Therefore, taking advantage of the altitudinal variations in the area of lower and upper extremes of Hazara division will provide good opportunities to evaluate the available kiwifruit germplasm/ varieties at NTHRI, for adaptation to different environmental condition. The altitude gradients in these areas vary from 832 MASL in Havelian tehsil of Abbottabad to about 2500 MASL in District Batagram of Hazara Division.  

    Agriculture is the main source of income for most of the rural population of Hazara division.  Due to its agro-climatic conditions, Hazara Division has great potential for growing a variety of fruit crops such as apple, peach, pear, apricot, plum, cherries, walnuts and almonds which are high value cash crops. Thus cultivation of fruit occupies an important position in the farming system of the hilly area by enhancing household nutrition and is a major feature of subsistence economy. This farming system of the hilly area of Hazara Division is also most suitable for growing kiwi fruit. As kiwi is a species sensitive to waterlogging, it grows well on sloppy, hilly area where the soil is aerated and has good drainage system.

     NTHRI has been carrying out research and development activities on kiwifruit for the last three years in District Mansehra and has introduced the new fruit on farmer’s field. It is obvious from our last three years’ experience during which we observed that kiwi has vigorous growth and higher survival rate at NTHRI, Shinkiari Mansehra as compared to other low land area of Pakistan. However, we have so far tested only Hayward variety on farmer field in district Mansehra while the other varieties/germplasm also need to be evaluated not only in District Mansehra but also in other districts of Hazara Division before starting their cultivation on commercial basis. The new genotypes/germplasm have been acclimatized and their population has been increased at NTHRI nursery.  Theyhave greater genetic diversity with respect to plant and fruit phenotypes and adaptability to fluctuating environment.Thus NTHRI has great potential for propagating kiwifruit germplasm. However, to evaluate and promote kiwi plant germplasm/varieties in Hazara Division intervention is needed in this sector. The scope of kiwifruit cultivation, the availability of kiwifruit germplasm at NTHRI and the suitability of the agro-environmental condition of district Mansehra justify the evaluation of these germplasm along the lower and higher altitude of Hazara division before, their introduction/promotion on farmers field in the  areas.   

    Project Members
  • Dr. Arshad Mehmood Abbasi
  • 5. Impact Of Environment On Phytochemicals Content, Antioxidant And Antimicrobial Activities In Allium Cepa L

    Currently, there is a continuous and growing concern about the food we daily eat, mainly the vegetables. Vegetables are packed of phytochemicals, minerals and vitamins due to which their role for health is significant.Antioxidant compounds such as polyphenolics play an essential part to scavenge the free radicals and inhibit the oxidative mechanism, which is responsible for degenerative health disorders. Allium cepa L. (onion/Piyaz) is an important vegetable crop, which is cultivated through the world mainly in Asia. It is one of the best nutritive sources of biologically active compounds. Many epidemiological studies have revealed that ingestion of A. cepa decreases the risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative disorders. Furthermore, A. cepa possess antioxidant,anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial properties, which are mainly accredited to abundant contents of phytochemicals such as flavonoids, phenolic acids, organosulphur compounds, thiosulfinates, anthocyanins, vitamins and minerals (Fe, Se, K, I, S etc.). It is well established that climate, growing conditions, soil composition, post-harvest condition and genetic diversity effect significantly on the production of secondary metabolites or phytochemicals and properties in plant species related to active constituents. In Pakistan, A. cepa is cultivated under diverse agro-ecological conditions. However, impact of environmental conditions on secondary metabolites production and their properties has seldom been described. In this perspective, current study is designed to investigate the impact of environmental factors and genotypic difference on the phytochemical composition, in vitro antioxidant capacity and antimicrobial properties of A. cepa cultivated under diverse agro-climatic conditions in Pakistan. Proposed study will be helpful in understanding, impact of environmental conditions i.e. temperature, precipitation, altitude and genetic diversity on secondary metabolites or phytochemicals production and their activity in plant species, particularly in A. cepa. Furthermore, proposed study will be valuable for consumers, environmentalists, farmers and plant breeders to select the super varieties of A. cepa having maximum yield and significant contribution in health along with best growing conditions.

    Project Members
  • Dr. Arshad Mehmood Abbasi
  • 6. Study On The Skin Care Efficacy Of The Local Medicinal Plants From Himalayan Region And The Construction Of The Related Industrial Pilot Platform

    Description 

    Aesthetic appearance has always been a matter of prime importance. Traditional medicinal resources, especially plants contribute significantly in the management of skin conditions. Herbal cosmetics, particularly obtained from plants are used for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, coloring, softening or alteringthe appearance of body. Herbal extracts have been used to treat various ailments of skin, hair, and dental care and are primarily added to the cosmetic formulations due to antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antimicrobial and anti-aging properties. Herbal or phyto-cosmetics claimed to have efficacy and intrinsic acceptability due to less side effects. The Himalayan region in Pakistan is biodiversity hot spot and flora of this area is being utilized by local communities as food and for the treatment of various health disorders including skin infections. The tribal women in Himalayas use local herbs as natural cosmetic and for the protection and caring of skin. And demand of herbal cosmetics is increasing due to their purity, little or no side effects and impressive results.

    This project is mainly focused on the composition and properties analysis of medicinal plants of the Himalayan region of Pakistan. Though, several plant species are being utilized for skin care and in the treatment of many skin infections but have rarely been explored yet. Therefore, in this project: Phytochemical profiling of medicinal plants of Himalayan region of Pakistan will be done with special emphasis on the estimation of polyphenolic, flavone compounds and vitamins along with in vitro antioxidant/free radical scavenging potential and antimicrobial activity, particularly against pathogens causing skin infection. This project will be helpful in the screening of novel herbal/plant resources with significant potential to care and protect the skin. Further, findings of this project will be a milestone in the selection of plant species for the production of novel natural cosmetic products on commercial basis. 

    Project Members
  • Dr. Arshad Mehmood Abbasi
  • 7. Phytochemical Profiling And In Vitro Antioxidant Activity Of Selected Edible Wild Fruits Consumed By Local Communities Of Lesser Himalayas-Pakistan

    Despite agricultural societies' primary reliance on crop plants, the tradition of eating wild plants has not completely disappeared. In developing countries millions of people do not have enough food and approximately, over 300 million people gain part or all of their livelihood and food from forests. Previous epidemiologic studies have consistently shown that, intake of fruits and vegetablesplay a crucial role in the prevention of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer disease, and age-related functional decline. This is attributed to the fact that these foods may provide an optimal mix of phytochemicals such as natural antioxidants and fibers along with other biotic compounds. Wild fruits can easily be managed, used and sold as they require very little input and management, but have been neglected by the scientific and development systems. Wild fruits are important source of nutrients, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals to the rural populace; hence knowledge about their phytochemical contents and antioxidant potential is imperative. Many of wild edible fruits are scarcely known systematically, nutritionally, much less their biodiversity, phytochemical constituents or antioxidant potential throughout the world generally and in Pakistan particularly. Although Pakistan is an agricultural country but unfortunately we are not able to fulfill the food requirements of our people, in this regard wild fruits are the Nature’s gift for the inhabitants of rural areas. The Himalayan region in Pakistan is biodiversity hot spot area, particularly with reference to medicinal and edible wild food plant species. Proposed study will provide a pedestal (i) to scrutinize and identify edible wild fruits affluent in phytochemical constituents and antioxidant potential, (ii) in exploration of new and alternative food resources to improve food security of the nation, and (iii) for nutraceutical, beverages and confectionary industries of the country.    

    Project Members
  • Dr. Arshad Mehmood Abbasi