Submitted to: CSIR -National Botanical Research Institute Diamond Jubilee Commemoration Volume. Plant Science
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 5, 2013
Publication Date: December 30, 2013
Citation: Mattoo, A.K. 2013. Agricultural biology in the 3rd millennium: nutritional food security & specialty crops through sustainable agriculture and biotechnology. CSIR -National Botanical Research Institute Diamond Jubilee Commemoration Volume. Plant Science. 9-14. Interpretive Summary: The world population is expected to reach 9-10 billion by 2050. To feed the growing world population, the development of, and incorporation of, sustainable agricultural methods in crop production are needed to ensure conservation and preservation of the soil, suppression of weeds and pests, and maintain or improve yields. To develop crop production systems that are sustainable, environmentally friendly, high yielding, and with improved nutrients, it will be necessary to test how these systems interact with novel genotypes engineered for multiple attributes. We have used genetic engineering approaches to increase production of nutrient-enriched tomato lines and tested their interaction in four different ecosystem functions including the legume cover crop mulches. These studies demonstrate that genetically engineered tomato lines are compatible with a leguminous cover crop mulch system, with quantitative increases in value-added traits. This subject matter was part of a Keynote Presentation to commemorate the diamond jubilee celebration of the National Botanical Research Institute, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Lucknow, India, and will be of interest to scientists and agriculturists alike in learning the beneficial interactions between genetically modified plants and sustainable agriculture systems.
Technical Abstract: Food security and agricultural sustainability are of prime concern in the world today in light of the increasing trends in population growth in most parts of the globe excepting Europe. The need to develop capacity to produce more to feed more people is complicated since the arable land is decreasing, crop yields have declining trends, the production resources such as water are becoming limiting, and the world is facing climate change. On top of the challenge in producing more (nutritious) food, there is a dire need to fight malnutrition and reduce extensive use of chemicals in agriculture for a cleaner environment, all of which are particularly relevant to the third world. Development of and incorporating sustainable agricultural methods in crop production are needed to ensure conservation and preservation of the soil, suppression of weeds and pests, and maintain or improve yields. At Beltsville, our goal is to understand the molecular bases of the high quality and productivity conferred by legume cover crops to horticultural crops. We have found that the decomposition of the cover crop residue provides chemical signals and nutrition to the crop grown in it. This beneficial relationship results in robust root growth and synthesis of specific growth hormones that generate signals in the roots which are then transmitted to the shoots and fruits, causing longevity and high fruiting of the crop, in our case, tomato. We are also cataloging genetic responses as influenced by environmental conditions. To develop crop production systems that are sustainable, environmentally friendly, high yielding and with improved nutrients it will be necessary to make them in sync with novel genotypes engineered for multiple attributes. Together with the sustainable alternative agriculture, precision-based genetic manipulation to enhance pro-health nutrients can contribute to eco-friendly production systems and help sustain future nutritious food production. To reduce environmental pollution during the growth of a number of value-added specialty tomato crop genotypes, we have assessed the impact and compatibility of a reduced-till cover crop HV, rye mulch and conventional black polyethylene based production systems on agronomic features, gene regulation and metabolism of the novel transgenic lines that differ only in their transgenes. Our studies demonstrate that genetically engineered tomato lines are compatible with the leguminous cover crop mulch system, with quantitative increases in value-added traits in an economically beneficial manner.