A New Method to Sustain Global Food Security

Shiv Nadar University Researcher Discovers a New Method to Sustain Global Food Security.
Dr. Ram Sagar Misra, Assistant Professor at the Department of Chemistry, School of Natural Sciences along with his collaborators Prof. Benjamin Davis at the University of Oxford and Dr. Matthew Paul from the Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, UK, have discovered a process to radically increase crop yields in Wheat by up to 50%. The biotechnology enabled process on the basis of which this has been enabled is called "chemical intervention in plant Signaling Process" and can be replicated to other crops such as rice, potatoes etc. This will not only increase the plant biomass and starch but also increase the crop resilience towards drought, excessive rainfall and temperature. Dr. Sagar along with the team have been working in this area since 10 years. 

Talking about the research Dr. Sagar states, “The pressing global issue of food insecurity due to population growth, diminishing land and variable climate can only be addressed through agricultural innovation focused on improving both crop yield potential and resilience. For long we have looked at genetic modification as the only possible solution. But not only has the GM process failed to achieve worldwide acceptance, particularly for crops such as wheat, it has also been known to raise environmental concerns. Chemical intervention in Signaling Process is an alternative to GM as it uses Trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P), a central sugar signal in plants, which regulates sucrose use and allocation, underpinning crop growth and development to signal the plant to produce more starch – in this case, wheat.” 
Some highlights of the discovery:

• The Small Molecules Intervention in Signaling Process can increase production yields of Wheat by up to 50% and improve its resilience to climate change by combating excessive heat, cold and water. 
• This method is an alternative to Genetic Modification technology & promises better and safer results in comparison to conventional hybrid methodology. 
• The new process can be replicated across other crops including rice, potato and others and offers the potential to improve India’s farm economy & enable food security. 

The discovery has been acclaimed globally and been published in Nature with Dr. Sagar as a joint first author. It has also been patented in the U.S., the UK and the EU by the University of Oxford. 
Congratulating Dr. Sagar, Prof. R.K. Sharma, Honorary Secretary, Royal Society of Chemistry (London), North India Section and the Coordinator of Green Chemistry Network Centre, Department of Chemistry, University of Delhi, said, “My heartiest congratulations to Dr. Ram Sagar for an invention that has the potential to revolutionize Indian agriculture. Undertaken by an Indian scientist and successfully completed with his collaborator at University of Oxford, UK makes this research all the more relevant and noteworthy. I believe this puts Dr. Sagar as well as the Shiv Nadar University at the forefront of cutting edge and globally relevant research. The fact that this has been published in Nature, world’s premier scientific journal also deserves mention and highlights the significance of the innovation.” 

Commenting on this innovation Professor A. D. N. Bajpai, Vice-Chancellor, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla and Member, Central Advisory Board on Education, Committee on University Reforms, MHRD, Govt. of India, said “This innovation is incredibly unique and potentially heralds a new dawn for Indian agriculture. This invention is significant on multiple counts. Firstly, by enabling higher yields of up to 50% it can go a long way towards ensuring global food security. Secondly, higher yields will benefit the agri-economy of India’s wheat growing states, impacting millions of poor farmers and their families. Thirdly, by helping the crop become drought tolerant, this new method will be critical in a rain-fed ecosystem. Fourthly, this technology can be easily and widely replicated across other crops as well – so potential benefits are enormous. Finally, it can co-exist and be integrated with existing crop technologies, without any ethical or safety issues whatsoever. The only question now is how soon this can be brought to market.”