Dr. Mujahid Ali*, Dr. M. Zahid Rashid**, Dr. Tanveer Hussain*** (Horticulture, *OFWM; **AARI; ***PMAS)
Biotechnology has tremendous potential in plant regeneration and its alteration. The biotechnological apparatuses may likely have more prominent impacts in cultivation, where indeed minor changes such as in color, smell quality, and postharvest conduct would make noteworthy commercial impacts Hereditary change, micropropagation, in vitro preservation of germplasm, synced innovation, virus-cleaning, biofertilizers, biopesticides, and postharvest biotechnology are imperative regions in biotechnology of horticultural crops.
Role of Biotechnology in Horticulture
The major areas of biotechnology which can be adopted for improvement of horticultural crops are:
- Plant Tissue Culture (PTC)
It is one of the major technique allied with biotechnology. One of the widest applications of biotechnology has been in the area of tissue culture and micro propagation in particular. It is one of the most widely used techniques for rapid asexual in vitro propagation. This technique is economical in time and space affords greater output and provides disease free and elite propagules. PTC also improves safer and quarantined movements of germplasm across nations.
When the traditional methods are unable to meet the demand for propagation material this technique can produce millions of uniformly flowering and yielding plants. Micropropagation of almost all the fruit crops and vegetables is possible now. Production of virus free planting material using meristem culture has been made possible in many horticultural crops.
- Genetic Engineering (GE) of Plants
By the use of genetic engineering technique numerous valuable qualities have been presented into plants and numerous transgenic plants have been created in which the remote DNA has been steadily coordinates and brought about within the union of fitting quality item. Transgenic plants have secured about 52.6 m hectares within the Mechanical and creating nations up to 2001. Qualities for the taking after characteristics have been presented to the edit plants. Now world has stated GMO foods on large scale to feed such a huge population.
- Herbicide Tolerance
Weeds are devastating factor in horticulture. To cope with such situation herbicides were introduced but these chemicals for this purpose but unfortunately plants were also damaged along with weeds. So, transgenic plants are developed that are resistant to herbicides allowing farmers to spray crops so as to kill only weeds but not their crops. Many herbicide tolerant plants have been developed in tomato, tobacco, potato, soybean, cotton, corn, oilseed rape, petunia, etc.
- Pathogen/Disease Resistance
Viruses and biotic stress are the major pests of crop plants which cause considerable yield losses. Many strategies have been applied to control virus infection using coat protein and satellite RNA. Potato virus free seed is best example in this regard.
- Abiotic Stress Resistance
A number of genes responsible for providing resistance against stresses such as to water stress heat, cold, salt, heavy metals and phytohormones have been identified. Resistance against chilling was introduced into tobacco plants by introducing gene for glycerol-1-phosphate acyl-transferase enzyme from Arabidopsis. Arabidopsis is basically a model plant for research purpose which infer results for other plants.
- Molecular Markers
Now it has become possible to identify DNA segments and genes and to find their exact location by using molecular markers. The possibilities of using gene tags of molecular markers for selecting agronomic traits have made the job of breeder easier. It has been possible to score the plants for different traits or disease resistance at the seedling stage itself. The use of RFLP (Restriction Fragment Length polymorphism), RAPD (Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA), AFLP (Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism), and isozyme markers in plant breeding are numerous. RFLPs are advantageous over morphological and isozyme markers primarily because their number is limited only by genome size and they are not environmentally or developmentally influenced. Molecular maps now exist for a number of crop plants including corn, tomato, potato, rice, lettuce, wheat, brassica species, and barley.
- Genetic Modification of Microbes
By using the DNA recombination technique, it has been possible to genetically manipulate different strains of these bacteria suitable to different environmental conditions and to develop strains with traits with the capacity for better competitiveness and nodulation.
Biopesticides are biological organisms in replacement to pesticides for the control of pests. It’s definitely a big achievement in plant sciences. Biopesticides are gaining importance in agriculture, horticulture, and public health programs for the control of pests.
- Biocontrol Agents
These are other microbes which are antagonistic to several pathogenic fungi and are good substitutes to fungicides or insecticide. These are Bacillus sp. Pseudomonas fluorescens, Trichoderma, Verticillium sp., Streptomyces spp. etc. These organisms are commercially available.