Biotechnology Research Institute, CAAS, China, organized 3rd SINO-PAK International conference on Innovations in Cotton Breeding and Biotechnology from 04-06 Sep, 2019 at Changji, China. A delegate of seven scientists from Pakistan participated in this conference. Two scientists from MNSAUM (Prof. Dr. Shafqat Saeed, Dean, FAES; Dr. Zulqurnain Khan, Assistant Professor, IPB2), two scientists from Cotton research Institute, , Multan (Dr. Saghir Ahmed, Director; Dr. Zia Ullah Zia, ARO), one scientist from AARI, Faisalabad (Dr. Abid Mehmood, Director General, Agric. Res.), one scientist from UAF, Faisalabad (Dr. Masooma Naseer Cheema, Associate Professor, Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics) and one scientist from Center of Excellence in Molecular Biology, Lahore (Dr. Tayyab Hussain, Director) participated in the conference.
A meeting was held to discuss the current cotton situation and future prospects. It was decided to formulate a collaborative project under “One Road One Belt” for funding. All the organizers such as Prof. Zhang Rui, Dr. Liang, Dr. Meng, Dr. Way, Dr. Ali, Mr. Umar etc participated in the discussion. Dr. Abid Mahmood, Dr. Saghir Ahmed, Prof. Shaqat Saeed, Dr. Zia Ullah Zia and Dr. Zulqurnain Khan took the initiative to write the initial draft of the project. Following areas were identified for collaboration (i) germplasm exchange (ii) technology transfer (iii) mechanical picking (iv) pest and weed management and (v) training of scientists. Project was written with Zhang Rui’s group (BRI, CAAS, China). Discussion on future collaborations was made successfully with Tianzhen Zhang group (Zhijiang University, Wuhan, China). MOU and MTA Agreements were signed with Prof. Zhongxu Lin (Huanzhong Agriculture University, China). Cotton germplasm was taken from Prof. Zhongxu Lin for further studies in Pakistan. Meeting was conducted with Prof. Xin-Hui Nie, Director/Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Shihezi University for research collaborations and cooperation. More emphasis was given to “One Road One Belt” program for writing projects to hunt grants.
Dr. Abid Mehmood, Director General, Agriculture Research, Punjab, presented a comprehensive outlook of the cotton crop in Pakistan. He informed that his institute has developed 59 cotton varieties with an economic contribution of Rs. 1400 billion to the national economy since 1980. Dr. Saghir Ahmad Director Cotton Research Institute Multan gave a talk on “Introgression of Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCuD) resistant genes from Gossypium arboreum to G. hirsutum”. He added that few CLCuD resistant lines through hybridization between G. arboreum and G hirsutum followed by successive backcrossing have been developed by the team at Cotton Research Institute Multan. MNH-1050 is the first promising line/product obtained through introgression of the two species G. arboreum and G. hirsutum. This line possesses harmonious combination of seed cotton yield and fiber traits. Prof. Dr. Shafqat Saeed greatly appreciated the Chinese scientists for their collaboration and helping the world particularly Pakistan in combating challenges encountered by the cotton crop. He underlined the need to find sustainable solutions for problems incurred by changing climate scenario. The development of resistance against heat, sucking insects pests especially whitefly, pink bollworm and begomoviruses induced Cotton leaf curl disease should be achieved by coordinated research activities beyond borders. He also shared the success story of the management of Pink bollworm at the MNSUAM. Dr. Tayyab Hussain presented his work entitled “’Exotic’ genes expression in Cotton for fiber quality improvement”. Expression of bacterial cellulose genes (acsA and acsB) in a local cotton variety under fiber specific promoter (GhSCFP) resulted in increased in fiber length (upto 17. 52%), increased fiber strength (upto 26.45%) and decreased fiber micronaire value (upto 22.41%) in the transgenic lines as compared to the control non-transgenic cotton plant lines. Dr. Masooma Naseer Cheema presented her work entitled “Consequences of poor stewardship of Bt cotton in Pakistan”. She laminated that this technology has revolutionized the cotton production in the developed countries, but its adoption in the developing countries didn’t perform up to the mark. Comparing the situation in both scenarios showed non-stewardship of this technology in the developing countries, where the system was not supervised and regularized as it was in the developed world; ranging from seed marketing to the policy matters. Dr. Zulqurnain Khan talked on “Comparative study of TALEs/TALENs and Cas9/dCas9 for virus resistance in cotton”. Dr. Khan said that cotton leaf curl disease (CLCuD) is one of the major factors for low yield of cotton in Pakistan. He urged that engineering resistance in cotton cultivars against CLCuD through RNA-directed Cas9 is a powerful tool to tackle the viral disease in cotton. Pakistani participants also visited the Xinjiang Agriculture Expo, Changji, Xingjiang followed by farmer field visit. The success stories of 1st and 2nd SINO-PAK Conferences was presented in the closing session of the conference by Dr. Zulqurnain Khan. Prof. Zhang Rui said that SINO-PAK cooperation is need of the hour to solve common problems for progress and development in both the countries; China and Pakistan. She said that she is ambitious for future collaboration with MNSUAM to do joint projects.