Title: Plant Biotechnology: Progress and Prospects

Sadasivam Sankaranarayanan

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India


Dr.S.Sadasivam completed his Ph.D. (Biochemistry) in 1968 at University of Madras, India. He did his Post-Doctoral research at University of Florida and University of California, USA. He worked in various capacities at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore (1974 – 2003) and Kumaraguru College of Technology, Coimbatore (April 2003 to May’2011). He has Guided 8 students for Ph.D.  He has 225 publications in journals and conference presentations. He has published several books and one of them on “Biochemical Methods” is still popular among students studying Biological Sciences in India. Another title published in USA “Molecular Basis for Host Plant Resistance to Pests” is used by researchers in this area.


Demographic prediction is that by 2050, nine billion people will inhabit this planet and there is an urgent need to plan for food security. Since the beginning of the 20th century, various tools have been introduced to increase agricultural productivity. Innovations in biotechnology enabled better interpretation of gene functions for increasing crop productivity through improving resistance to pest and diseases. Biotechnological tools have also been used to improve nutritional values, to produce fresher products and molecular pharming.

The advent of high throughput genomics technologies viz., whole genome sequencing, transcriptome, proteome, metabolome, and ionome profiling methods have opened new vistas for development of stress-tolerant varieties. By the end of 2016, >4000 living organisms including >100 major crops have been sequenced and the information is available in NCBI GenBank. Re-sequencing of a large number of germplasm in crops viz., rice (3000 genotypes at IRRI, Philippines), Arabidopsis (1001 genomes at SALK Institute, USA) and tomato (150 genome project at Wageningen University, Netherlands) paved the way to discover novel alleles of agronomically important genes.

Advanced tools are being developed to produce new plant products with new functions. These tools include synthetic promoters, 'tunable' transcription factors and genome-editing tools like zinc-finger nucleases, transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs). In future, assembly and synthesis of large DNA molecules, plant transformation with linked multigenes and plant artificial chromosomes will be integrated to find solutions to agricultural and environmental constraints.  Biotechnology is sure to help to achieve increased productivity to match the population growth.