First-ever plant tissue culture laboratory set up at AIOU

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ISLAMABAD: A first-ever plant tissue culture laboratory has been set up at the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) on Tuesday to promote the growth of banana plant in the country.

It was formally inaugurated at the university by AIOU Vice Chancellor (VC) Professor Dr Shahid Siddiqui. The laboratory was established with the financial support of the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

The VC said that the lab was part of the university’s consistent efforts to enhance its role in the country’s socio-economic development through research-based academic support. He said, the university had published 14 research journals in the last three years that were meant to address food issues in country, adding that the number of research journals would be increased to 17 by the end of this year.

It is important to mention here that the lab would conduct research to ensure that disease free banana plants were developed through tissue culture technology.

According to Department of Agricultural Sciences Professor Dr Sabir Hussain Shah, in Pakistan there were two main problems being faced by the banana industry, including attack of banana bunchy top virus that destroyed the whole plantation and low yield of the fruit. Banana production in the country was only 4-5 tons/hectare, while in other countries of the world its production was 30-35 tons/hectare.

AIOU’s Department of Agriculture sciences had also been engaged in research regarding multiplying the plants of a Chinese imported variety W-11 through tissue culture technology. Three Chinese varieties W-11, B-10 and Pishang were imported by Pakistan Agricultural Research Council in 2009 and multiplied these varieties through tissue culture technology. Presently, the agriculture department had been working to multiply the W-11 variety through tissue culturing.

In the newly established lab, initially around 500 plants were developed while about 1,000 more plants would be produced before the end of this year.

The department would soon approach the farmers of Sindh province for distributing these plants among them. By establishing the lab, the basic requirements of a tissue culture laboratory have been fulfilled.

However, mass-scale propagation of the banana plants could not be achieved due to very little capacity of this project. Therefore, the university had taken the decision to submit its next project to HEC Technology Development Fund regarding the multiplication of disease free banana plants.

Another research-based project about the multiplication of olive plants through tissue culturing would be put on display at ‘Projects, Start-ups and Career Expo’, scheduled to take place in mid-November.

The event was also addressed by AIOU Department of Sciences Dean Dr Naghama Rashid who spoke about the university’s new initiatives being taken on the instructions of the vice chancellor, to promote agriculture sciences in the country.