Written by Ricardo R. Argana, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Service
It was in September 1984 when a geneticist by the name of Dr. Alec Jeffreys invented the technique of genetic fingerprinting. Briefly explained, the technology shows that a genetic fingerprint is specific to each individual and the pattern does not belong to any other person on earth except for identical twins.
Who would have foreseen that three decades later DNA fingerprinting would be adopted for many other organisms including plants?
Applying the DNA fingerprinting technology, in an effort to make rubber a key contributor to Philippine economic development, researchers from the University of Southern Mindanao USM) conducted a study to prove the varietal integrity of the country’s promising rubber clones through DNA fingerprinting.
The Los Baños-based Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) funded the study.
Titled, Validation of Varietal Integrity of Promising Rubber Clones through DNA Fingerprinting, the study led by Dr. Emma K. Sales of USM seeks to assure farmers that the planting materials they are using are genuine and can enhance crop productivity.
With the project, Mindanao is expected to contribute largely towards achieving a 60% increase in rubber production in 2020.
Guided by this goal, the project aims to address the problem on large areas with senile rubber trees and over-exploitation of existing plantations, which will inevitably halt productivity.
More importantly, the project is expected to ascertain the quality and integrity of planting materials produced and sold by clonal gardens and nurseries.
Ensuring varietal integrity requires accurate labelling and systematic recording, safekeeping, and tagging of each clone. This process is facilitated by the use of a biotechnology tool known as molecular markers.
Molecular markers or genetic markers are used in molecular biology and biotechnology to identify a particular sequence of DNA in a pool of unknown DNA.
Clone tagging under the project has verified and validated the identity of clones from 181 rubber commercial nurseries from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
The project Validation of Varietal Integrity of Promising Rubber Clones through DNA Fingerprinting is one of the finalists in the research category of the National Symposium on Agriculture and Aquatic Resources Research and Development (NSAARRD).
To be held on July 27, 2016 at the DOST-PCAARRD Complex in Los Baños, Laguna, NSAARRD will serve as one of the highlights of the celebration of the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW).
Initiated by DOST-PCAARRD, NSAARRD recognizes the outstanding contributions of individuals and institutions in improving the state of agri-aqua research and development in the country.