Dr. Apichart Vanavichit, Associate Professor of Kasetsart University and Director of Rice Gene Discovery Unit, was awarded the 2012 NSTDA Research Chair Grant to work on “Whole genome mutagenesis to enhance rice breeding potential for climate change”. With a budget of the 19.93 million Baht, Dr. Apichart and his team aim to develop new rice varieties that will withstand effects caused by climate change. The project consists of three major tasks: mutant discovery, functional discovery, and gene pyramiding. Prior to this project, Dr. Apichart has already identified mutant genes involved with rice grain qualities (aroma, amylose content, gelatinization temperature and oil quality) and stress tolerance (iron toxicity and submergence tolerance) in a mutant population of Jao Hom Nin generated through chemical mutagen. In this project, mutant discovery will focus on using TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions in Genomes) to identify new mutant genes associated with new traits namely drought, salinity and cold resistance during flowering stage. Mass screening of mutant lines for abiotic traits will be implemented in a greenhouse with temperature and humidity control in order to facilitate the identification of desired mutant lines out of the 20,000 lines comprising the population. In the functional characterization of genes, desired mutant lines for each trait will be selected and will be subjected into SNP typing. Mutations in the gene other than SNP will be determined by using the new generation sequencing technique. In the end, characterized genes in mutant lines will be used and applied in breeding. Functional markers will be developed out of the characterized genes and mutant lines will be crossed to Pinkaset in order to validate the functionality of the genes in new germplasm. Molecular breeding method will be used to identify lines containing the target genes in single and in pyramided fashion.
Another NSTDA Research Chair Grant was given to Prof. Prasit Pavasant from Chulalongkorn University to develop dental stem cell for periodontal tissue engineering application.
Established in 2009, NSTDA Research Chair Grants are awarded annually to outstanding senior scientists who have demonstrated a sustained high level of productivity to enable them to conduct a large-scale research project and provide mentoring of new investigators. Each grant is worth up to 20 million Baht for a five-year period. Five grants have been made in the past three years, generating over 100 scientific papers and 9 patent applications, as well as graduating 165 MSc. and PhD students.
Posted on 20 November 2012