Department of Crop physiology

Department Profile

The Department of Crop Physiology at the University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK, Bangalore was formally established in 1976 with the objectives of imparting undergraduate and graduate programs in Crop Physiology and also to undertake research in areas related to the physiology of crop plants. As the name of the Department indicates, there was a clear intention to keep the interest of the Department focussed on “crops” rather than “plants”. Accordingly since its inception, the Department has strived to make its teaching and research curricula to be increasingly crop physiology centric and be of relevance to the overall science of crop productivity.
While the pendulum of the rain drop holds the country to ransom, efforts have been on for the last few decades to gain some handle to reduce the consequences of the gamble of monsoon. Any effort that could alleviate the problem of drought afflicting the majority of Indian agriculture can change the face of India – from poverty to prosperity for her people. Towards this end, the Department of Crop Physiology at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore has been striving in the past 30 years to comprehensively address the plant responses to stress. The explicit aim of the program is to provide basic inputs that could be used in breeding crop plants for tolerance to drought and other abiotic stresses. The efforts at the Department have culminated in generating tomes of information on the response of plants to water stress, identification of germplasm tolerant to moisture stress, understanding the physiological mechanisms of tolerance and developing newer approaches towards breeding for or screening for drought tolerant crops. These outputs have greatly enriched the understanding of plant responses to abiotic stresses and offer a fertile field for taking up the challenging task of engineering plants for tolerance to abiotic stresses.
Based on the initial gains, the Department has set itself the vision to work on a mission mode in developing crops tolerant to abiotic stresses including drought through advanced genetic engineering tools. The Department is focusing on cloning novel genes that impart resistance to moisture stress. Molecular characterization of the cloned genes using novel approaches such as virus induced gene silencing, RNAi, development of genetic mapping for important traits such as water-use efficiency and root characteristics and evaluation of transgenics for their resistance to moisture stress are being attempted. It is hoped that these efforts will drive the momentum to free Indian agriculture from the clutches of drought.
In the process of achieving the task, the Department realizes that only way to sustain this battle is to build an army of excellent human resources that will continue to address the problem of stresses at large. Thus among the visions, the Department is also aggressively emphasizing on developing the necessary conceptual and experimental skills in students and young researchers. The training would lay a strong foundation in developing the necessary human resource capability in the area in India.
In the quarter century of its existence, the Department has developed into a major national centre for teaching and research in Crop Physiology. Over 175 and 50 students have been awarded their Master’s and Doctoral degree respectively from the Department. Most of the students of the department are well placed in either national or international research institutions, state departments of agriculture and in the private sector and have continued to exhibit high standards of performance and excellence.
The major research focus of the department has been in the areas of plant stress physiology abiotic stresses like drought, salinity and high temperature, canopy photosynthesis and physiology of water use efficiency, chemical regulation of plant growth, genetic engineering for stress resistance, nutrition bioprospecting and herbicide physiology. The research which has been supported by a number of national and international funding agencies and private sector institutions has led to significant conceptual and technological outputs.
The Department has pioneered the development of rapid and reliable techniques for screening germplasm lines for tolerance to abiotic stresses. Research into the stress responsive genes has lead to the identification of novel stress responding genes responsible for imparting resistance to moisture, salinity and high temperature stress. The Department houses the National Facility for Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) and serves as a nodal centre for all studies pertaining to the use of stable isotopes in biology. Based on the performance in drought research the Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India sanctioned DBT-Centre for Drought Research in the year 2006 and ICAR considered the Department of Crop Physiology as Niche Area for Drought Research.
The Department has a good mix of senior and junior faculty that combine the richness of experience and enthusiasm. The department faces formidable challenges in the years to come, both from the increasing demands of enhancing productivity of crops and from the radical changes in the approaches to address these challenges. The Department is trying to keep pace with the recent developments on these fronts.

Faculty

Dr. A. G. Shankar
Professor and Head
Zn nutrition from human respective and
drought tolerance in crops
Dr. P. Chandrashekara Reddy
Professor
M.Sc (Agri), Ph.D
Plant tissue culture, Plant
transformation and Crop Physiology
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+91-80-2363 6713
Mr. B. Mohan Raju
Associate Professor
M.Sc (Agri)
Drought and water use efficiency,
Molecular Breeding, Plant phenotyping
for several traits, Reproductive biology
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+91-80-2363 6713
Dr. M. S. Sheshshayee
Associate Professor
M.Sc (Agri), Ph.D
Mol. Breeding for drought tolerance with
special emphasis on MAS for water use
efficiency
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+91-80-2362 0737
+91-99015 15100
Dr. R. Uma Shaankar
Professor
Bioprospecting and bioconservation
Dr. N. Nataraja Karaba
Associate Professor
M.Sc (Agri), Ph.D
Molecular basis of drought tolerance
in plants
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+91-80-2333 0153

Additional information