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  • ABOUT MULBERRY
     
    Sericulture in India is an important agro-based cottage industry providing employment to millions in the villages and earning foreign exchange to the tune of 600 crores per year. Indian sericulture is largely mulberry silk production by the silkworm Bombyx mori. The silkworm is essentially monophagous and survives whole solely on the mulberry leaves (Morus sp.). Mulberry is a highly heterozygous and clonally propagated species that is prone to prolonged juvenile periods. There is thus paucity of information about the yield contributing characters. Since the quality of silk production is directly proportional to the quality of leaves used as the exclusive feed for these worms, leaf quality is of utmost importance in sericulture. Huge variation in the plant type (tree/bush/shrub) foliar production, nutritive value and palatability of the leaves exists. From the commercial viewpoint, a shorter tree/shrub with enhanced foliar production/vegetative growth and thicker and juicer leaves is highly desirable. Most of these traits are quantitative in nature and hence difficult to manipulate cumulatively by conventional approaches. The goals of mulberry improvement are thus directed towards development of high productivity genotypes with quality leaves. Additionally, efforts are also directed towards (i) breeding for enhanced yield and quality for production areas, (ii) breeding for stress tolerant varieties, and (iii) breeding for varieties suited for marginal sites.

    Development of mulberry varieties for tolerance to water stress under semi-arid condition
    holds tremendous potential as nearly 48% of the Indian cultivar of mulberry falls under rainfed, water stress conditions. Also, due to continuous depletion of ground water sources, the irrigated areas are also becoming semi-irrigated and the total land under sub-optimal irrigation is increasing. In vitro techniques such as tissue and organ culture offer the plant breeders new opening not only for the production of homozygous lines but also for genetic manipulation. Since mulberry can be clonally propagated, a stable transfer of gene(s) into a popular/elite line could easily provide the needed trait in a desired genotypic background. Despite the fact that trees are difficult to handle under in vitro conditions, manipulation of mulberry via genetic engineering holds tremendous.In vitro screening for stress tolerance may prove fruitful. Since plant productivity is strongly influenced by dehydration stress induced by either high salt, drought or low-temperature,condition and mulberry happens to be a predominantly irrigated plantation crop, understanding the responses of mulberry towards osmotic stress is also of paramount importance.

    Unprecedented opportunities for manipulation of plant genes have arisen from recent advances in recombinant DNA research. Availability of reliable genetic transformation system for plants allows elucidation not only of the principles of gene expression and regulation/recombination in plants, but also allows transfer of novel and beneficial foreign genes into agronomically important plants.

    Attempts at enhancing silk production have largely relied upon improving the silk either through conventional or modern techniques of genetic manipulation. With the recent developments in the field of plant genetic engineering and genomics, manipulating the host plant, mulberry, for an ideal plant type is desirable.
                              Screening for biotic tolerance
    Micropropagation & Genetic Transformation of Mulberry
    Genomics & Gene Discovery