In a first, the government has initiated field trials of transgenic silkworms that are not only resistant to diseases but will also help boost overall production of silk.
Multi-locational field trails of transgenic silkworm have been initiated in “contained facilities” after the approval of Review Committee of Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) at four locations.
The trials are being conducted at Central Sericultural Research and Training Institute (CSR&TI), Mysore, CSR&TI, Berhampore, CSR&TI, Pampore and Andhra Pradesh State Sericulture Research and Development Institute (APSSRDI), Hindupur.
The loss of life of silkworms due to disease prompted the research group of Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh State Sericultural Research and Development Institute (APSSRDI), Hindupur to develop transgenic silkworms resistant to BmNPV virus. This type of silkworms can be reared by the farming community through the year.
A transgenic animal is one that carries a foreign gene that has been deliberately inserted into its genome.
“This is for the first time that the RCGM has given permission to conduct field trials on any animal or insect,” Mohammed Aslam, a senior scientist and adviser to the Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology (S&T) told PTI.
He said 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 as their resistance level is low.