The 4th Edition of International Conference on Plant Genetics and Genomics “Next Gen Crops for Sustainable Agriculture” was organized on July 19-20, 2018 in the Hotel Hometel, Chandigarh, India in which about 135 Scientists participated. This grand two days event witnessed around 27 enlightening Invited Talks, 5 Oral Presentations, 51 Poster Presentations and an Exhibition featuring Technology Giant like Merck Life Sciences.
During the Welcome Address of the Conference, Dr Sanjay Bajaj, Managing Director, Select Biosciences India greeted all the Speakers, Delegates and Exhibitors while introducing the organization and its activities to the audience. This was followed by Speaker Introduction Session in which each of the Speakers introduced themselves to the audience and shared their research interests. This brief introduction helped the audience to instantly connect and network with the speakers.
In this session, mementos were also presented to the Speakers and Exhibitors. A group photograph was also organized as a part of the meeting. In the “Next Gen Crops for Sustainable Agriculture” Conference, many renowned speakers discussed about various topics such as Agronomics, Crop Improvement, Abiotic/Biotic Stress Tolerance, Molecular and Omics Approaches for Plants, Plant-Microbe Interactions, Plant Gene Editing and many more. Apart from several eminent scientists speaking at the event, many young researchers and faculties also presented their research work in the form of Oral and Poster presentations which was appreciated by all.
The first scientific session “Agronomics and Crop Improvement Strategies” witnessed many interesting talks. Dr Sanjay K Katiyar, Senior Development Specialist-Technology Transfer, International Rice Research Institute, Philippines delivered a presentation in which he discussed about the role of Transformative Rice Breeding (TRB) in modernizing rice breeding programs in Asia and Africa by identification of marker trends, population breeding strategy and SNPs based MAS. In another talk, Dr Manjit Singh, Ex-Director, ICAR-Directorate of Mushroom Research deliberated on better production of mushrooms with the help of Agronomics and also advocated greater consumption for sustainable agriculture.
Another scientific session entitled “Developing Crops with Improved Abiotic Stress Tolerance” focused on understanding the effects of different kinds of abiotic stresses on crops and the subsequent development of climate resilient crops. One of the talk by Dr Ashwani Pareek Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University contemplated on elucidating the signal perception and transduction pathways associated with abiotic stresses by a combined use of genetic, genomic, biochemical and cell biological techniques. Dr K C Bansal, Area Convener, TERI-Deakin Nano-Biotechnology Centre deliberated on the applications of genomic resources in developing climate resilient crops.
In session entitled “Innovative Approaches for Better Plants”, Dr Ramcharan Bhattacharya, Professor & Principal Scientist, National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology delivered a presentation, which focused on identification of endogenous peptide elicitors and delineating the mechanisms of downstream signaling involved in eliciting the defense response.
On Day 2 in the session entitled “Current Techniques for Plant Improvement”, Dr Mukesh Jain from Jawaharlal Nehru University provided insights into the molecular signatures and regulatory mechanisms underlying agronomic traits to facilitate research in various areas of functional and translational genomics in crop plants. Dr Ram Kumar Sharma from CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology addressed the audience about their next-generation genomics efforts coupled with field studies for expediting the marker assisted breeding in natural populations.
In one of the exhilarating sessions entitled “Molecular & Omics Approaches for Next Gen Plants”, the first presentation by Dr Alon Samach, Associate Professor, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel was on the phenomena of alternate bearing i.e. how heavy fruit load of one year reduces flowering the next year, leading to lower yields and entry into a biennial cycle. He further explained their approach for studying this phenomenon and presented their recent findings in olives and apples. Another talk in this session was delivered by Dr Girdhar Pandey, Professor, Department of Plant Molecular Biology, University of Delhi. He emphasized on how Rice Phytoglobins play significant role in plant growth and development by regulating reactive oxygen species (ROS), nitric oxide (NO) and energy homeostasis in plant cell as well as how these Rice Phytoglobins can be used as potential candidate to develop crop, which can tolerate K+ and Ca2+ deficiency and abiotic stresses without losing yield and productivity.
In another session entitled “Understanding Plant-Microbe Interactions”, Dr Shilpi Sharma, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi highlighted the impact of bioinoculants using cultivation-dependent as well as state-of-art molecular microbiology tools to deduce their contribution to shaping the Rhizospheric microbiome for an overall enhancement of plant growth and productivity. The last talk by Dr Mallikarjuna Garladinne from Agri Biotech Foundation was aimed to discuss the use CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing platform to target site specific cleavage of coding and non coding regions of Geminiviral genomes of MYMV and MYMIV for attenuation of disease and subsequently increase the crop yield in green gram.
Among the young presenters, Ms Heena Arora from University of Delhi was adjudged the best oral presenter and Ms Natacha Soto from ICGEB stood first in poster presentation. They were awarded cash prizes in addition to memento and certificates. The other two winners in the poster presentation contest were Ms Adaysha Bharati and Ms Garima Chauhan both from JNU, New Delhi.
The event concluded with the Closing Remarks and Vote of Thanks by Dr Sanjay Bajaj. The feedback received from the participants indicated that the conference was very good in terms of scientific contents, quality of talks and networking opportunity. Overall it was a very well managed, well attended and very informative conference.