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Why Tea is so popular Worldwide? India’s Tea Genome sequencing project will not replicate work done by Chinese

Genome mapping helps to decode the genetic controls linked to different characters of tea that govern its yield, quality and other attributes

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  • Genome is the complete set of genes or genetic material present in a cell or organism
  • Chinese researchers announced on May 1 they have successfully sequenced the genome of the evergreen shrub Camellia sinensis, known as tea tree
  • Genome mapping helps to decode the genetic controls linked to different characters of tea that govern its yield, quality, and other attributes

Kolkata, June 5, 2017: India, which recently launched its tea genome sequencing project, is not going to replicate the work done by the Chinese but instead aims to develop climate-smart tea plantations with the genomic boost, an official here said.

We launched the project in the first week of April and a Chinese group published a paper on their work a month later. Many are of the opinion that India has, perhaps, missed the bus. We are not replicating the work that China has done. Our target cultivar is Assam type (Camellia assamica) and that is Indian-origin tea, Biswajit Bera, Director (Research) at Tea Board of India, Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry said on Monday.

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Once the project is completed, we are going to have a climate smart tea plantation wherein we will target development of tea cultivars according to our own need, he said.

In a study that offers clues why tea is so popular worldwide, Chinese researchers announced on May 1 they have successfully sequenced the genome of the evergreen shrub Camellia sinensis, known as tea tree, for the first time, Xinhua reported.

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The genus Camellia contains over 100 species, but the most popular varieties of tea, including black tea, green tea, Oolong tea, white tea, and chai, all come from the leaves of the evergreen shrub Camellia sinensis.

India’s tea genome mapping project involves six institutes — three Tea Research Institutes, National Tea Research Foundation (NTRF), ICAR, CSIR. This exercise will help in the development of superior tea cultivars using genome sequence information, Bera said.

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This will be a two-phased programme. We will generate huge genetic resource information which will be co-related with field data specifying different traits or characters. Like, for Darjeeling, we are targetting the disease blister blight. For different areas of tea plantation in India, we are targetting different traits which will be co-related with this genome sequencing. In addition, the genetic data will also aid in developing package and practices to overcome adverse climatic stress, Bera said.

Genome is the complete set of genes or genetic material present in a cell or organism. Genome mapping helps to decode the genetic controls linked to different characters of tea that govern its yield, quality and other attributes.

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Bera, a botanist, said there are three main tea varieties: India tea (Assam), China tea and hybrid tea.

Bera was speaking at a workshop on ‘Sustainable Development of Tea-Gardens and Issues of Urban Wetland’ organised here by IIT Kharagpur and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Around 40 students and faculty from both institutions, who are jointly researching the tea gardens in North Bengal, participated in the event. (IANS)

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Cepheid to Establish Manufacturing Unit for TB Diagnostics in India

Rifampicin is a drug commonly used in treating TB bacteria in first line of treatment

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The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach.
The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach. (IANS)

Expanding its footprint in India, US-based molecular diagnostics company Cepheid Inc on Thursday announced its plans to establish a manufacturing unit in the country to improve Tuberculosis (TB) diagnostics.

Cepheid’s GeneXpert MTB/RIF test is a closed-cartridge-based system that is easy to operate by minimally trained staff and gives results in approximately two hours, speeding the conventional backlog that used to exist in traditional diagnostic methods.

The new manufacturing unit would produce MTB/RIF test cartridges, contribute to the government’s “Make in India” initiative and thus bringing the company’s global expertise in TB diagnostics to India, the company said in a statement.

As part of the plan, Cepheid also unveiled its latest portable, easy-to-use TB-testing system — the GeneXpert Edge — which is expected to be available in India later this year, the company said.

The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach.

“Cepheid recognises the need for technological advancement and is committed to contributing significantly to India’s goal of TB eradication,” said Peter Farrell, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Operations, Cepheid.

Cepheid's Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB)
Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB).

“We are hopeful that GeneXpert Edge will help eliminate delays in TB diagnostics by providing definitive results within hours and facilitating fast and easy last-mile delivery even in the remote villages of India,” he added.

India has nearly one-fourth of the global TB patients and an estimated 4.8 lakh lives are lost every year due to delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment and there are above 2.5 million new cases of TB every year. The country aims to eradicate TB by 2025.

Approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2010, more than 1,200 Cepheid’s GeneXpert Systems have been installed in the last two years at various Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) sites in the country and more than 2.5 million cartridges were supplied last year at various centres of Central TB Division (CTD).

Also Read: Fruit Bats Identified As Source Of Nipah Virus Outbreak in Kerala

Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB) and rifampicin-resistance mutations, which are markers for MDR-TB strains in under two hours.

Rifampicin is a drug commonly used in treating TB bacteria in first line of treatment.

Xpert MTB/RIF tests also have excellent negative predictive value, which allows clinicians to manage TB-negative patients more effectively to prevent unnecessary and costly respiratory isolations. (IANS)