Why in news?
=>The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has bred a hybrid maize, Pusa Vivek QPM 9 Improved that is claimed to be the world’s first ever rich in lysine and tryptophan as well as pro-vitamin A. Normal maize kernels have 8-10% protein and, within that, 1.5-2.5% lysine and 0.3-0.4% tryptophan. Pro-vitamin A content, too, is only 1-2 parts per million (ppm).
=>The new maize hybrid has 2.67% lysine and 0.74% tryptophan in the protein, besides 8.15 parts ppm of pro-vitamin A.
=>The improved version incorporates an Opaque-2 gene that enhances lysine and tryptophan content, and another gene crtRB1, which results in higher levels of carotenoids (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin) that convert into vitamin A in the body. Normal maize has more of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids that cannot convert into vitamin A.
=>The bio-fortified hybrid is not genetically modified, as both the Opaque-2 and crtRB1 genes are isolated from maize lines and not any alien/unrelated plants or microorganisms. It has been mainly developed for J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the North-East states, with 93-95 days maturity and average and potential yield of 5.6 and 8 tonnes per hectare, respectively.
=>It is also suited for growing in the southern states and Maharashtra, where the average and potential yields are higher (5.9 and 9.4 tonnes) with only 83-85 days duration.
=>Private sector maize hybrids are of medium (95-100 days) and late (100-120 days) maturity. In this case, yield is slightly lower, but the early maturity makes it suitable for hilly and relatively water-stressed regions. And the grain has more nutritional value.
=>The original hybrid (Vivek 9) was developed by the ICAR-Vivekananda Parvatiya Krishi Anusandhan Sansthan at Almora, Uttarakhand.
=>The new hybrid can also be used by animal feed makers, who currently buy synthetic lysine. Here, the grain itself has quality protein and pro-vitamin A that is natural. The poultry and pigs will, then, have more body weight gain and better feed conversion ratio.
Pic courtesy:AGRI ICAR JRF
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