Research

Development of transgenic wheat for increased iron and zinc bioavailability
A Competitive Research Grant of Rs. 27 Million has been awarded by PARB to FCC to work on this project in collaboration with NIBGE, Faislabad. According to the recent National Nutrition Survey, acute deficiencies of iron and zinc exist in our diet resulting in increased incidence of anemia, retarded growth and other abnormalities. Reduced bioavilabilty of these micronutrients is due to the presence of phytase which are known to be antinutrients. The strategy being adapted is to introduce a phytase gene in wheat which should be expressed in the seed endosperm resulting in degradation of phytate thus increasing bioavailability of the micronutrients.

Genetically modified biomass for biofuel production
Development of lignocellulosic biomass with reduced lignin content through genetic engineering for bioconversion to ethanol. The aim of this research is to develop biomass which may not need any pretreatment for saccharification. This genetically modified biomass may also be used in paper industry as it will have less lignin thus avoiding the use of noxious chemicals.

Biofertillizers for sustainable agriculture
Molecular biology of plant microbe interaction, elucidation of signal transduction pathways, metagenomic studies on the rhizosphere of plants growing in extreme environments – such studies are aimed as developing better biofertilizers for sustainable agriculture.

Algal species
Algae are the most efficient converters of solar radiation to chemical energy. These are known to have high oil content. Research is underway to optimize the protocols for growing algae ion a large scale for oil extraction.

Plant transformation
Plant transformation systems for introducing foreign genes are being established for the benefit of industry to undertake contract assignments.

Increasing phosphorus use efficiency in wheat
Phosphorus is a macronutrient and also a limiting factor for plant growth and development. Most soils contain significant amounts of total soil P but plants are unable to utilize it because the major component of soil organic phosphorus occurs as phytates. Phytase is an enzyme capable to hydrolyze the phytates into inorganice phosphorus (Pi) and myo-inositol. The project is aimed to express foreign phytase gene in plant roots to enhance phosphorous uptake.

Micropropagation of Jatropha
Tissue culture facilites are being used for micro propagation of Jatropha and other energy crops and for selection of higher oil producing varieties based on somaclonal variations.

Molecular diagnostics for livestock-based food pathogens (photograph)
Livestock-based food pathogens are responsible for infliction severe diseases and economic losses to the agriculture based economy of Pakistan. The project has been initiated to incorporate molecular approaches for rapid detection of common food-borne pathogens from raw and ready-to-eat meat and milk.