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DNA Metabarcoding: A Rapid Method for Biodiversity Assessment


DNA metabarcoding refers to the automated identification of multiple species from a single bulk sample containing entire organisms. This offers unprecedented scientific and operation opportunities in order to understand biodiversity distribution and dynamics in a better way. Managing the health of global ecosystems requires detailed inventories of species and a good understanding of the patterns and trends of biodiversity. Evolutionary and ecological studies often rely on our ability to identify the species involved in the process under investigation or our capacity to provide robust biodiversity estimates. For about three centuries, the acquisition of biodiversity data was based on morphological characterization of plants and animals. The idea of identifying species on the basis of molecular markers emerged soon after the advent of molecular biology. Early methods involved the use of hybridization, restriction enzyme digestion or other molecular probes. DNA-based species identification was introduced by Arnot et al. and further development, standardized and advanced by Hebert et al. The ability to extract and store DNA for prolonged periods of time provides a unique opportunity to assess the evolution of biodiversity over time in relation to global change and to develop concrete measures to reserve these features. For more details, please click here.
DNA Metabarcoding

Nanotechnology: An Agricultural Paradigm

This book highlights the implications of nanotechnology and the effects of nanoparticles on agricultural systems, their interactions with plants as well as their potential applications as fertilizers and pesticides. It also discusses how innovative, eco-friendly approaches to improve food and agricultural systems lead to increased plant productivity. Further, it offers insights into the current trends and future prospects of nanotechnology along with the benefits and risks and their impact on agricultural ecosystems. contentNanomaterials in agriculture reduce the amount of chemical products sprayed by means of smart delivery of active ingredients; minimize nutrient losses in fertilization; and increase yields through optimized water and nutrient management. There is also huge potential for nanotechnology in the provision of state-of-the-art solutions for various challenges faced by agriculture and society, both today and in the future.

Chapter 12

Nanotechnology for Enhancing Crop Productivity

Suresh Kaushik and S.R. Djiwanti

Agriculture is currently facing a number of challenges like low nutrient use efficiency, stagnation in crop yields, multi-nutrient deficiencies, climate change, and water availability. One of the frontier technologies like nanotechnology can be explored to detect precisely and supply the accurate quantity of plant nutrients and pesticides to enhance crop productivity in agriculture. Nanotechnology involves the designing, production, characterization and application of devices, structures, and systems by controlling the size and shape at nanometer scale. Nanotechnology using nanodevices and nanomaterials provides new avenues for potential novel applications in agriculture such as efficient delivery of pesticide and fertilizer using nanomaterial-based formulations such as nano-fertilizers, nano-pesticides, and nano-herbicides. New innovative smart delivery systems and sensitive nano-biosensor-based technology have great potential to solve the problems faced in crop production. This chapter summarizes some new developments in smart delivery systems and nano biosensor-based technology for enhancing crop productivity.

Genetic Improvements of traits for enhancing NPK Acquisition and Utilization Efficiency in Plants

Book title: Plant Macronutrient Use Efficiency: Molecular and Genomic Perspectives in Crop Plants

Editors: Mohammad Anwar Hossain, Takehiro Kamiya, David J. Burrit, Lam-Son Phan Tran and Toru Fujiwara

Publisher: Academic Press, Elsevier


Genetic Improvements of traits for enhancing NPK Acquisition and Utilization Efficiency in Plants

Opening Black Box of Soil Microbial Diversity through Molecular Techniques


Biodiversity is generally defined as the variety and variability of living organisms and the ecosystems in which this occurs. The variability of life in the soil encompasses not only plants and animals but also the invertebrates and microorganisms that are interdependent on one another and the higher plants they support. Biodiversity is composed of three interrelated elements: genetic, functional and taxonomic diversity as shown in Figure 1. Taxonomic diversity i.e. the number of species forms an important part of an ecosystem’s diversity and is controlled by the genetic diversity. Genetic diversity can be much more than the number of recognized species. Hence, several species may have the same functions, resulting in functional redundancy. Some species may also interact to perform functions not possible by any single species. Therefore, biodiversity is the interaction of all these elements.

Soil biodiversity is more extensive than any other environment on the globe when all living forms are considered. The soil biota contains representations of all groups of microorganisms, fungi, bacteria, algae and viruses, as well as the microfauna such as protozoa and nematodes. The total diversity is equal to greater than any coral reef or rain forest. Soil algae and protozoa, like higher plants and animals, can be identified by their morphology. Fungi and bacteria, however, require more extensive biochemical and genetic analysis to enable identification.

It has been estimated that only between 1 and 5% of all microorganisms on the earth have been named and classified. A large proportion of these unknown species is thought to reside in the soil. The possible numbers of existing species of different groups are 1.5 million species of fungi, 300,000 species of bacteria, 400,000 species of nematodes and 40,000 species of protozoa. New molecular techniques have been used to estimate that single gram of soil probably contains several thousand bacterial species.

 Opening Black Box of Soil Microbial Diversity through Molecular Techniques



Biotechnology for enhancing micronutrients (Zn, Fe) acquisition and uptake efficiency in plants

Improvement of micronutrient acquisition in area where micronutrients (Zn, Fe, Cu & Mn) deficiency in soils limits crop productivity is probably the most challenging and rewarding areas of research to achieve the sustainable productivity of agricultural crops. Progress made in recombinant DNA technology in recent years and the application of molecular techniques has advanced our understanding in unraveling the mechanisms of acquisition of micronutrients by the plants from less-labile of soil pools and role of genes involved in these processes, and have provided an altogether new dimension to agricultural research.




Biotechnology for enhancing micronutrients such as Zinc, Iron etc.



Phytoremediation of toxic metals from contaminated soils via biotechnology

The major challenge facing society in the twenty-first century is to feed and provide for increasing numbers of people while protecting human health and the environment. To accomplish this we must combine traditional technologies with modern technologies. Contamination of soil and water by industrial effluents and sewage waste is one of the major problems faced by the modern world. The intensive use of potentially toxic compounds by industry and past failures to properly dispose of hazardous material particularly toxic metals now necessitate new methods for the remediation of polluted soil and water. Research efforts are currently being directed at the development of being less invasive, more economical plant-based phytoremediation technology in removing toxic pollutants particularly toxic metals. Plants have a remarkable ability to extract and concentrate elements and compounds from air, water, and soil. They spend most of their lives as solar-driven pumping stations and chemical factories. Recently, attempts have been made to harness this ability for purposes of environmental remediation. The term phytoremediation has been introduced to describe this process. Phytoremediation is the use of plants to remove pollutants from the environment or to render them harmless. This is being developed as a technology for remediating volatile and nonvolatile organic and toxic metal pollution. However, removal of toxic metals from soils is an area in which phytoremediation may have a particular impact because of the lack of alternative technologies that are affordable and effective. Plants that hyperaccumumulate toxic metals are rare. Such hyperaccumulators are taxonomically widespread throughout the plant kingdom. More than 350 species of plant are known to accumulate metal such as nickel, zinc, copper, cadmium, selenium or manganese in high levels. For example, naturally occurring hyperaccumulating plants like Thlaspi caerulescens, Serbetia accuminata, Alyssum and Astragolum species which acquire in their tissues high levels of metals such as cadmium, zinc, nickel, have been shown to sequester more than 1% of their dry mass of heavy metals from contaminated soil. Over the past 20 years, many crop and related weed species have been screened for metal uptake, translocation and tolerance. Much effort has been focussed on the Brassica family to which many hyperaccumulators species belong. However, the potential for application of hyperaccumulators in phytoremediation is limited by several factors such as slow growing, generate insufficient biomass for practical large-scale application, and demonstrate affinity for only one or two toxic elements.

A fundamental understanding of the biochemical processes involved in plant metal uptake, translocation and hyperaccumulation in normal and metals hyperaccumulators, regulatory control of these activities, and the use of tissue-specific promoters offers great promise that use of molecular biology tools can give scientist the ability to develop effective and economic phytoremediation transgenic plants for toxic metals. So, a long term effort should be directed towards developing a “molecular tool box” composed of genes valuable for phytoremediation.

Metagenomics: New Challenges Ahead in Molecular Soil Ecology


Metagenomics is the culture-independent analysis of a mixture of microbial genomes using an approach based either on expression or on sequencing. The term is derived and coined from the statistical concept of meta-analysis and genomics to capture the notion of analysis of a collection of similar but not identical
items. The meta-analysis is a process of statistically combining separate analyses, that is, analysis of analysis. Metagenomics is the application of the methods of genomics to microbial assemblages. It involves studying the genetic makeup of many microbes in an environment simultaneously, and makes accessible the
many types of microbes that cannot be grown in the lab and therefore cannot be studies using the central tool of classical microbiology. Metagenomics also enables the study of entire microbial communities,offering a window to intact microbial system. The emerging field of metagenomics presents the greatest
opportunity to revolutionize understanding of the living world.


Genetically Modified Crops


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