First-ever Genetically-modified Silkworm Awaits Nod from GEAC

A joint effort by sericulture research institute and Hyderabad-based lab

World’s first-ever genetically modified silkworm developed at Andhra Pradesh State Sericulture Research and Development Institute (APSSRDI) now awaits approval from Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee at national level to go for the second phase trials of the baculovirus resistant transgenic silkworm with a view to overcoming the loss in silk cocoon production.

Virus-resistant breed

Explaining the laborious process of development of this virus-resistant breed, APSSRDI Director P. Jagannatha Raju told The Hindu that nuclear polyhedrovirus (BmNPV) alone causes more than 50% cocoon crop loss in India.

While the first phase of trial was at institutional level to overcome bio-safety issues, it was successfully completed and the regulatory committee for genetically modified organisms — Review Committee for Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) reviewed and approved it. The multi-locational contained field trials of the transgenic silkworm hybrids at national level were jointly conducted by the APSSRDI, Hindupur, and Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad, in association with Central Silk Board for further exploitation with the assistance of Biotechnology Industrial Research Assistance Council.

Scientist K. Ibrahim Basha examines the eyes of silkworm under a microscope at the A.P. State Sericulture Research and Development Institute in Anantapur district. (Image Credit: RVS Prasad)
Scientist K. Ibrahim Basha examines the eyes of silkworm under a microscope at the A.P. State Sericulture Research and Development Institute in Anantapur district. (Image Credit: RVS Prasad)

The scientist behind the development and trials at APSSRDI, K. Ibrahim Basha along with his team of scientists who have been toiling hard for almost a decade, now expressed hope that with the nod of five-member panel for next level of trials the transgenic silkworm resistant to BMNPV would significantly increase the preferred bivoltine silk production in the country.

“The virus-resistant silkmoths development with ribonucleic acid (RNA) interference takes place with feeding a batch of moths with Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus just like vaccination and transgenes from those resistant to the BmNPV virus were transferred to commercial silkworm strains through conventional breeding aided by green fluorescent protein/red fluorescent protein selection by watching them under microscope,” Mr. Basha explained.

Shortlisted

Eight farmers (two in Anantapur district, two in Mysore, two in Chittoor district and two near Bengaluru) have been shortlisted for these field trials on the three transgenic hybrid silkworms developed. The achievement of the flagship research programme would soon be presented to scientists from all over the world at South Asia BioSafety Programme and South Asia BioSafety conference.

 

Written by Ramesh Susarla in The Hindu. Read original article here