Indore: DAVV scientist finds easier way to diagnose stress conditions in plants

Indore: Stress conditions if diagnosed in a plant at an early age, timely measures can be taken to save the plant. Many scientists across the globe are developing different techniques to detect stress conditions in plants so that same can be dealt with.

A scientist of Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya in collaboration with Russian scientists has for the first time showed significant changes in structural and functional changes in photosystem II heterogeneity in plants.

“This research can be used as a marker to diagnose stress conditions in plants in easier and more effective way,” said Prof Anjana Jajoo, a faculty with School of Life Science, DAVV.

She said that her research is based on effects of high temperature and high salt conditions on photosystem II heterogeneity. In photosynthesis, photosystem II protein complex is most sensitive to any kind of environmental stress.

“After research on photosystem II heterogeneity, now we are trying this approach for other environmental stresses such as effects of organic pollutants, etc. The work is very important under Indian climatic conditions where high temperature and high salt concentration in the soil are common problems,” Jajoo said. Research lab of Jajoo has been working in the field of photosynthesis.

Her current research interest is on the responses of abiotic stresses on the photosynthetic efficiency of plants. Photosynthetic efficiency of a plant is directly related to overall yield, so to cope up with global climatic changes and increasing population, it is important to have plants with high photosynthetic efficiency and thus higher productivity. At the same time, plants should be able to tolerate the increasing stress conditions.

Research in photosynthesis group at School of Life Science is focused mainly on plants such as wheat, soybean and maize which are the major crops of this area.

“We try to investigate the sequence of events taking place in the photosynthetic apparatus under different types of stresses such as high salt, high temperature, environmental pollutants, heavy metals, high fluoride concentrations etc,” Jajoo said.

She added: “We are also researching on the bio-remedial practices which can be used to cope up with these stresses. Research has been initiated to use suitable micro-organisms to ameliorate the damaging effects of PAH and heavy metals on plants.”

To detect stress in plants at an early stage, Jajoo lab uses the technique of Chlorophyll a fluorescence measurement for the purpose. In this technique, measurements can be done in field conditions and plant is not destroyed during measurements.

“It is a very quick method (1 sec for one measurement). Our students take readings in the field and then bring the data to lab. Further analysis is done using updated and advance software. Based on the analysis, we are able to tell which component of the photosynthetic machinery has got impaired by stress. Such information will be useful for molecular biologists to make plants with better tolerance for stress,” Jajoo said.

In collaboration with scientists in Indore at regional wheat breeding station of IARI, New Delhi, School of Life Science scientists are using this technique to screen stress tolerant and resistant cultivars of wheat. “The conventional methods take 3-4 months to differentiate between different genotypes, while with our method of Chl fluorescence, we give information within a week,” she said.

Five doctorate and three post doctoral fellows are presently working with Jajoo. She has international collaborations with many countries such as Russia, Hungary, UK, Japan, Finland, Poland etc. She has completed several international projects successfully and the results of the research work have been published in international journals of repute. Her recent paper was in prestigious “Nature plants” by Nature publishers which is rated as a very high impact publisher.

She has received several prestigious international awards such as Common wealth academic award, DST-DAAD fellowship to visit Germany, Hungarian state board award, DBT-CREST fellowship and many others.

Jajoo and her students have presented their work in many national and international conferences. Her post-doc student Dr Sonal Mathur received “Young talent award” in an international conference held in Russia. Her another student, Dr Rupal Singh Tomar, was invited to HOPE meeting in Japan to discuss her research work with eminent scientists. Two students, Dr Sonal Mathur and Dr Amit Gautum received Young scientist award from MPCST.

Because of its national and international projects and collaborations, Photosynthesis lab in School of Life Science is thus contributing very significantly to the overall research performance of the university.

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