Research focus: Virus
diagnostics in garlic and indigenous ornamental plants, molecular markers,
genomics and transgenic research.
The biotechnology section of the Plant Breeding Division performs independent research on aspects such as molecular markers, DNA fingerprinting, genetic transformation and mutation breeding technologies. However, biotechnology is regarded as a tool that is utilised by the other divisions of the campus and is utilised in many non-biotechnology related projects. Not only are commercial vegetable crop species, e.g. potato and sweet potato, being researched, but also indigenous vegetable species, e.g.
Amaranthus and taro, as well as flower bulb crops such as
Ornithogalum. The main aim of the biotechnology section is the improvement of various vegetable and flower crops through the implementation of biotechnological methods.
DNA fingerprinting is a technique that reveals the identity of an organism at a molecular level and it is primarily based on polymorphisms (differences) between individuals. Thus, it reveals the genetic identity of an organism. The main application of DNA fingerprinting lies in the protection of plant biodiversity, the identification of markers for specific traits, and the identification of gene diversity and variation. Currently, one of the quickest ways to distinguish between different cultivars is the utilisation of DNA fingerprinting. DNA fingerprinting or variety identification has become an important tool for genetic identification in plant breeding and germplasm management in order to prove trueness-to-type of different cultivars.
The ARC-VOP performs DNA fingerprinting as a service
to industry, e.g. the potato industry, and to the rest of the ARC, e.g.
in vitro genebank. Crop species that are fingerprinted on a
routine basis includes potato and sweet potato, and more rarely crops
such as amadumbe, strawberry, cauliflower, avocado, melon, cucurbits and
Lachenalia. The service is a very valuable tool for the
breeders, seed growers and processors. The techniques used yield quick
results which in the end saves time and money for the clients.
Potato DNA fingerprinting gel