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World Congress on Biotechnology

21-23 March 2011 Hyderabad, India
Gene mining from phreatophyte Prosopis juliflora for generation of transgenic rice tolerant to abiotic stresses
Dr. Suja George
M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Taramani Institutional area, India

Abiotic stresses cause a drop in average yields for most crops. Development of crop plants able to grow under stress conditions assumes importance in this context. Molecular dissection of stress adaptable model plants is likely to throw light on novel pathways of tolerance. This study chose Prosopis juliflora, a drought/heat/heavy metal tolerant tree of Fabaceae as the model plant for identifying and isolating genes functioning in abiotic stress tolerance. A cDNA library was created from drought stressed leaf tissue of P. juliflora seedlings. Random sequencing of 1700 clones by EST analysis resulted in the identification of several genes reported to function in tress tolerance in addition to many previously uncharacterized ones. Once a suitable stress induced EST is identified, the gene is sequenced fully and characterized by expression and biochemical analysis. A Reverse Northern experiment of 52 previously uncharacterized genes under drought stress indicated up-regulation of many, implicating a possible function in drought stress tolerance and paving way for better molecular insights into stress tolerance mechanisms of P. juliflora. A GST gene from P. juliflora, upregulated under drought, salt, osmotic and oxidative stress was transformed into the tobacco and the stress studies revealed protective function of this gene under different abiotic stresses. This gene was transformed into Indica rice variety ADT-43 and the transgenic plants survived better under conditions of abiotic stress compared to control. The study is the first of its kind in a leguminous tree species and adds to the existing knowledge on plant abiotic stress tolerance.

Dr. Suja George completed her PhD at the age of 28 from University of Madras on her thesis 'Genetic engineering for abiotic stress tolerance using Prosopis juliflora (Swartz) DC. as a model plant system for gene mining”. she is currently working as a senior scientist at M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Chennai, India. She has 13 research publications including reviews, original research papers and book chapters and an international patent. She is currently Principal investigator / CO principal investigator in as many as six research proposals MSSRF has submitted to various funding agencies for financial support.