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Green Biotechnology


Green biotechnology which is more commonly known as Plant Biotechnology is a rapidly expanding field within Modern biotechnology. It basically involves the introduction of foreign genes into economically important plant species, resulting in crop improvement and the production of novel products in plants. Use of environment friendly and cost effective alternatives to industrial chemicals such as bio fuels, bio fertilizers and bio pesticides are not only resulting in enhanced crop output, improvement in health and safety standards, these new products are also leading to less environment pollution and use of green technology. The ever increasing demand of agricultural produce has given new impetus to research in the field and has resulted in great benefits for farmers and users alike.

Today plant biotechnology encompasses the following main areas of research and application:

Plant tissue culture:
A technique that allows whole plants to be produced from minute amounts of plant parts like the roots, leaves or stems or even just a single plant cell under laboratory conditions. An advantage of tissue culture is rapid production of clean planting materials. Examples of tissue culture products in Kenya include banana, cassava, Irish potato, pyrethrum and citrus.

Plant genetic engineering:
The selective, deliberate transfer of beneficial gene(s) from one organism to another to create new improved crops, animals or materials. Examples of genetically engineered crops include cotton, maize, sweet potato, soy beans etc.

Plant molecular marker assisted breeding:
A technique that uses molecular markers to select for a particular trait of interest such as yield. A molecular marker is a short sequence of DNA that is tightly linked to the desirable trait (such as disease resistance) that selection for its presence ends up selecting for the desirable trait. E.g. maize that is tolerant to drought and maize streak virus.

Bio fertilizers and bio pesticides:
Increasingly farmers are using bio fertilizers and bio pesticides to reap more benefits and avoid the chemical pesticides having pollutants and ill effects for crops. As per Conservative estimate in India, a 10 percent saving through the use of biofertilizers will result in an annual saving of 1.094 million tons of nitrogenous fertilizers costing around Rs 550 crore.

Hybridization:
Increasingly plant scientists exploit the characteristic feature of better yielding ‘hybrids’ in plants. Hybrid vigour, or hetrosis as it is scientifically known, exploits the fact that some offspring from the progeny of a cross between two known parents would be better than the parents themselves. Many hybrid varieties of several crop species are being grown all over the world today. An example of this is the hybrid tomatoes that we eat commonly.

 

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