ANANTAPUR: The first kind of genetically modified silkworm race has been awaited for clearance from the genetics wing towards commercial-scale production in the country. Andhra Pradesh State Sericulture Research and Development Institute (APSSRDI) of Hindupur in the district has developed four new hybrid transgenic silkworm varieties which are resistant to BmNPV (Bombixmori Nueclio Polyno Virus) one and a half year ago.
The Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) has conveyed approval to CDFD and APSSRDI to go for field trials of transgenic silkworms that are not only resistant to diseases but will also help boost overall production of Indigenous silk few months ago. APSSRDI was leading the activity by supplying silkworms to trials being conducted at Central Sericulture Research and Training Institute (CSRTI), Mysore, Berhampore and, Pampore.
Since grasser disease is responsible for massive crop loss up to 40 per cent, the loss of life of silkworms due to diseases prompted the research groups of CDFD, Hyderabad and APSSRDI to develop transgenic silkworms resistant to BmNPV virus. A team of scientists comprising -Dr K. Ibrahim Bhasha, Dr J. Seetharamulu, Dr H. Lakshmi and Dr C. Ramesha- led by director Dr P.J. Raju was on mission and supervising field trials. About Rs 3.50 crore was sanctioned for the project.
Farmers can rear this type of silkworms throughout the year. “This is for the first time the RCGM gave permission to conduct field trials on any animal or insect,” the research station director Dr Raju briefed and further added that the Indian silkworms have resistance to fight diseases. Silkworms from China and Japan have the capacity to produce good quality silk but, if introduced in the tropical climate of India, they succumb to diseases due to poor resistance levels.
However, the rearing of bivoltine silkworm hybrids is not possible throughout the year, leading to dependence on inferior crossbred hybrids especially during summer because a crop loss to extent of 30-40 per cent due to BmNPV infection. “This crucial factor prompted the research groups to develop transgenic silkworms resistant to BmNPV,” Mr Raju said. “Introduction of transgenic silkworm hybrids, the quality parameters with reference to silk grade will improve than the present commercial hybrids,” Dr Ibrahim, pathology expert assessed. As part of three year long project, the new hybrids will be reared after successful completion at institute levels, Dr Seetharamulu said.