Wheat is one of the important cereal food crop that provides about 20% of the total calories and protein consumed by the humans. Due to its wide adaptability to a range of climates, wheat is most grown cereal worldwide. From time to time, the emergence of new pests and diseases, and harsh environmental conditions have challenged the performance of wheat. Use of herbicides and pesticides with high doses of fertilizers might be the temporary solution to enhance wheat performance for yield, but at the cost of environment and ecology. Best way to gain sustainable increase in yield is the development of new varieties that are best suitable to different climatic zones, and are disease/pest resistance. Wheat breeders have been working hard and innovatively to achieve this by using elite wheat cultivars. However, the issue at hand is the reduced genetic variation in elite germplasm due to intense selective breeding. To overcome this limitation, we need to bring in novel genetic diversity from other sources. Therefore, the use of wild species, such as Aegilops tauschii, has a great potential in wheat improvement for yield, and pest/pathogen resistance by bringing novel genes/alleles.
My main research focus here at K-State is to develop new germplasm to help breeders to improve wheat for important agronomic traits by incorporating novel genes from wild species, especially Ae. tauschii. Ae. tauschii is the diploid (DD) D-genome donor of hexaploid (AABBDD) wheat. First step in this process is to identify genetically diverse accessions of Ae. tauschii that also represent diverse geography. Diverse geographical representation is necessary because the plants coming from different environments are well suited to different environments and pest/pathogen pressure. Wheat Genetics Resource Center (WGRC), and I/UCRC center, at Kansas State University houses one of the most comprehensive collection of Ae. tauschii that is the representative of it's geographical distribution worldwide. Once the genetically diverse accessions are identified, they are hybridized with elite wheat cultivars to create new genetic diversity, which is selected based on their performance. An extension to this project, gene mapping, is another aspect of my research. Genes for important traits such as Hessian fly resistance and stem rust resistance are of main interest.
In addition to the main research, I am also interested in bioinformatics and learning programming languages. In free time (if you say so), I like to read random stuff on the internet. Probably, I should have told you earlier a bit about myself too. I was born and raised in northwestern state on India called Punjab that literally means 'five waters' and translates to 'the land of five rivers'. Punjab is agriculturally sound state with many crops grown - wheat, rice, cotton, sugarcane (to name a few) and many more. Here is my life history in short.
- Genetic diversity characterization in wild wheat species
- Germplasm development
- Gene bank curation
- Gene/QTL mapping
Cramer, C.S., N. Singh, N. Kamal, and H.R. Pappu. 2014. Screening onion plant introduction accessions for tolerance to onion thrips and iris yellow spot. HortScience 49(10): 1253–1261.
Tiwari, V.K., S. Wang, T. Danilova, D.H. Koo, J. Vrána, M. Kubaláková, E. Hribova, N. Rawat, B. Kalia, N. Singh, B. Friebe, J. Doležel, E. Akhunov, J. Poland, J.S. Sabir, and B.S. Gill. 2015. Exploring the Tertiary Gene Pool of Bread Wheat: Sequence Assembly and Analysis of Chromosome 5M g of Aegilops geniculata. Plant J.: Available at http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/tpj.13036.
“To feel is love, to discover R genes”