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Applications of Bioinformatics in Agriculture

BY: Amna Adnan | Category: Bioinformatics | Submitted: 2010-07-12 23:03:59
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Article Summary: "Bioinformatics tools provide the genomic information to the agriculturists due to which they are able to make plants resistant of drought, insects and pests..."

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Bioinformatics is a new field of science but it is making progress in every field of biotechnology very rapidly. As it has its application in the medicine by providing the genome information of various organisms, similarly the field of agriculture has also taken advantage of this field because microorganisms play an important role in agriculture and bioinformatics provides full genomic information of these organisms. The genome sequencing of the plants and animals has also provided benefits to agriculture.

Tools of bioinformatics are playing significant role in providing the information about the genes present in the genome of theses species. These tools have also made it possible to predict the function of different genes and factors affecting these genes. The information provided about the genes by the tools makes the scientists to produce enhanced species of plants which have drought, herbicide, and pesticide resistance in them. Similarly specific genes can be modified to improve the production of meat and milk. Certain changes can be made in their genome to make them disease resistant.

When the evolutionary changes occurred in the plants, their genome remained conserved and did not provided much information. Since the arrival of bioinformatics tools, it is possible to extract the required information from the genome of specific plants. There are two species of food plants, the genome of which has been mapped completely for example Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa. These two species of plants have their names in English as water cress and rice respectively.

Water cress is a small plant which is found on the rocks. Researchers took interest in its genome because of its smaller genomic size and studied the plant developmental processes. Its genome consists of 5 chromosomes on which 100 Mbp DNA is distributed. It reproduces in 5 weeks and makes new generation. The understanding about its genes and their expressions provides information about the other plants' proteins and their expressions. There are many uses of knowing the genome of A. thaliana but the major use is that the yield of the plants can be increased.

Insect Resistance:-
Many plants have been made insect resistant by incorporating the desired genes. Bacillus thuringiensis is bacterial specie which increases the soil fertility and protects the plants against pests. When the researchers mapped its genome, they used its genes to incorporate into the plant to make it resistant against insects. For example, corn, cotton and potatoes have been made insect resistant so far. By having the genes of bacteria in the plants genome, when insects eat the plants, the bacteria enter in their bloodstream and make them starved, ultimately they die. Bt corn is one specie of food plants which have been modified by inserting bacterial genes in it. It is effective against insects by developing resistance against them. The use of Bt genes in the plants genome has made the agriculturists to use the insecticides in very little amount. As a result the productivity and nutritional value of plants will also increase and will be beneficent for human health.

Improve nutritional Quality:-
When the changes are made in the genome of the plants, the nutritional value of plants also increases. For example some genes are inserted in the rice genome to increase the Vitamin A level in the crop. Vitamin A is an important component for the eyes and if the Vitamin A deficiency occurs in the body, it may result in blindness. This work has allowed the scientists to reduce the rate of blindness from the world by giving genetically modified rice to the people.

Poorer soils and Drought Resistant:-
Some varieties of cereals are developed which have the ability to grow in poor soils and are drought resistant. Due to this method, those areas can also be used which have less soil fertility.

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