Student contributors: Rudranil Samanta and Rumale Das (B.Tech, Biotechnology)
Nature is an artist which keeps on blissfully making new creatures with different size and shapes using different colors and qualities. On this planet, life exists in the form of 8.7 million species that live together under the guardianship of nature. All living beings are blessed to opt for the changes within themselves to survive in the available niche not only this but according to the environments, living objects undo the process of adaptation to compete and survive in a better possible way. So among all the existing creatures on the Earth, here is a discussion based on the plant system to explain the importance of plant and agricultural biotechnology in this modern world. The best possible character of a plant is supposed to be a good productive nutritious crop, high-quality yield capacity, disease resistance, stress tolerance power, and many more depending on what type of plant we are looking for. All plants will try to develop these characteristics within themselves for a better survival but this adaptation may take hundreds of years to fulfill the demand of the world. This is not a new phenomenon as we all are aware of the natural selection theory of Darwin. According to Darwin [he had] called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection (Charles Darwin). Now the role of biotechnology comes. Before starting the discussing let’s first understand what biotechnology is?
Biotechnology is defined as a set of tools that uses living organisms (or parts of organisms) to make or modify a product, improve plants, trees or animals, or develop microorganisms for specific uses. And when this is focused on plant and agriculture system then it is termed as “Plant and Agricultural Biotechnology” which is used for crop improvement through biotechnology tools. This area of science and technology is introduced to students of Adamas University with the subject names as Plant & Forest Biotechnology (SBT43104) as well as Plant & Agricultural Biotechnology (SBT52101) during their B. Tech and M. Sc courses respectively, offered by Department of Biotechnology under the School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology. Our students learn that this subject deals with a specific area of Biotechnology incorporated with plant sciences and they also learn about the use of scientific tools and techniques including genetic engineering, molecular markers, molecular diagnosis vaccines and tissue culture to modify living organisms- like plants, microorganisms, animals. They also understand that we can also treat environmental problems with the help of plant systems and biotechnology.
Let’s talk about the need and importance of this field and let’s expand our knowledge in this direction to gain a better understanding that this area of science and technology is not all about genetically modified crops but it’s a lot more than that, what our students learn in our Adamas University.
Plant and Agricultural Biotechnology is the majority important to alter the genome sequence of crops and those crops can be termed as transgenic and genetically modified crops with good productivity and good food quality. Yes, these crops are called GM crops. Being a developing country, we know India is based and specifically known for its agriculture throughout the world, farmers are like God to us but these farmers face several challenges just to make good yield with high quality, which we may not be aware of. But actually, many Biotic and Abiotic factors are challenging our agriculture systems. Plant and Agriculture Biotechnology helps to face and overcome these problems so that good quality food can be available not only for our Nation but for the entire world. This is not a single field, it is a combination of different scientific fields of Agriculture like Plant Breeding, Plant Pathology, Agronomy, Entomology, horticulture, vegetable sciences with a combination of the biotechnological field including Genomics, Proteomics, Genetic Engineering, Bioprocess Engineering, Immunology, molecular biology, and microbial technology. Not only this but here we learn about statistical technologies as well as advanced computation technology with system biology. Hence it is such a vast field and we try to introduce our students what is the need of today especially in the Agriculture and how they can draw their future in this area as a Professor, an Agricultural Scientist, a Plant Biotechnologist, a Genetic Engineer and they can also be a Career Counsellor of this field.
However, Plant and Agricultural biotechnology offer a great platform in agriculture but this field is not limited to just agriculture only, it has a great scope in medical and pharmaceutical science as well. We can understand this by going through some current researches where Plant and Agricultural Biotechnology was used for vaccine production against coronavirus. Researchers in Spain used Plant Biotechnology to produce SARS-CoV-2 vaccines as per the report by International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) published by 15th April 2020. They used a plant system “Nicotiana benthamiana” as a biofactory of thye vaccines, not only this but according to research, Queensland University of Technology successfully sequenced the Tobacco genome and now it is also used to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 reported by 8th April 2020. A month back by March 18, 2020, Canadian biopharmaceutical company “Medicago” got reported to develop viable vaccines candidate for COVID-19 and they also used the properties of Plant-based technology.
So, it is a field full of challenges and excitement for the students. Our students not only learn the concepts but they enjoy different experiences in this field. We provide well-equipped laboratories having sophisticated instruments and hand-on practice for the students so that the concept and the principle of all techniques will not be limited to the theoretical knowledge only but they will be able to gain practical knowledge as well.
With the concluding note, we would say that Sir Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan had given a great contribution to our Nation with the dream to fight against hunger. Somewhere he could fulfill the dream but with a high rate of increasing population, good quality nutritious food is the requirement of today’s world. This field of science and technology can help us to build a better nation. You can be the next to help our Nation to fight against hunger and to develop such a technology that will be able to provide good quality nutritious food to everyone in an affordable way. Let’s dream together and work together to build a healthier nation.
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