Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics
With the understanding of mechanism of inheritance planned programmes for the varietal development in various crops were initiated in the beginning of twentieth century. Wheat being the most important crop, the breeding in India started with its full earnest during 1906 with the efforts of Albert Howard and Gabrielle and followed at Lyallpur by D. Milne. Chaudhary Ramdhan Singh was appointed Cerealist to concentrate breeding work on cereals during the year 1925. Thereafter many other research sub stations were started as example at Gurgaon in 1940, Gurdaspur 1941 Rawalpindi in 1941, Kulu in 1945 and Jullundur in 1947. The new centres increased emphasis of wheat breeding. The work on improvement of rice, barley, maize and pulses was assigned to the cerealist, later so that in addition to wheat emphasis could be given on the development of other crops as well. Before the partition of the Punjab, the work on rice was carried on at the Research Sub-station, Kal Shah Kaku which is now in Pakistan. Work on rice breeding was also started at Nagrota, Rice Breeding Sub Station which is now in Kangra (Himachal Pradesh) during the year 1936 to serve the hill zones with rice improvement.
During 1927 Mr. B.S. Sawhney was appointed the Millet Botanist at Lyallpur, where the work on Bajra, gram and tobacco was started. This station was later shifted to Sirsa during 1934, which was the main Bajra growing region at that time. The work was shifted to Ferozepur during 1940 and at the same time work was also started in Cambellpur (Pakistan). The breeding of cotton as initiated in 1912 at Punjab Agricultural College and Research Institute Lyallpur by Dobbs. During 1924 Mr. Trot was appointed Economic Botanist (Cotton) from whom Mr. Mohammad Afzal took over during 1936. The testing of varieties of Sugarcane were started during 1911 at Gurdaspur and later on during 1934 research station to work on sugarcane was started at Risalewala near Lyallpur (Pakistan) and at Jullundur to conduct need based research on sugarcane. Sardar Harbans Singh was the first sugarcane specialist to initiate plant breeding research work.
At Lyallpur the first research work on brassicas, linseed and sesamum was started with establishment of Oilseeds Section under the able guidance of Khan Sahib Chaudhri Ali Mohammad as Oilseed Botanist. The groundnut research was started at Ludhiana after opening a sub station during 1933. Considering the importance and need of research on oilseeds three more sub stations were opened at Gurgaon (1937) Rawalpindi (1943) and Kangra (1945) for conducting crop improvement research on oilseeds on regional basis.
Chaudhary Ramdhan Singh was appointed Fodder Botanist during 1925 at Lyallpur before he formally joined at Cerealist. After him Sh. Hans Raj Saini continued the work on forages improvement till 1947. During this period the research was shifted to Sirsa during 1934.
After partition the research stations which were opened in Lyallpur were no more catering to the needs of the Indians living in the other part of the sub continent. Therefore the work was consolidated and shifted to Jalandhar to start crop improvement work on cereals, cotton and oilseeds under the charge of Dr. S.M.Sikka the first Economic Botanist. He was succeeded by Dr. L.S. Negi who remained incharge of this section till 1956. During 1956 with the merger of PEPSU with the Punjab, two sections were created namely Cereals Section under Dr. L.S. Negi and Oilseed and Cotton Section under Dr.Gursham Singh.
The research on sugarcane, millets and fodder continued at Jalandhar, Ferozepur and Sirsa respectively. During this period (1949 to 1962) served sugarcane research stations were opened at Gurdaspur, Jagadhari, Kheri, Ludhiana and Hisar. Dr. Sukhdev Singh succeeded, Dr. Hardial Singh in Sugarcane Breeding. Many other developments took place after partition such as 1951 two sub stations were established one at Rohtak for Bajra, Gurdaspur for gram and at Gurgaon (1954) on tobacco. A Fodder Sub research station was started at Palampur in 1951 to work on hill grasses. Forage sub station to concentrate on forage improvement work on central district of the state.
With the opening of Punjab Agricultural University during 1962 at Ludhiana, Hisar and Palampur different crop sections were formed in the Department of Plant Breeding. Dr. D.S. Athwal was the first professor and Head of the Department in the College of Agriculture at Ludhiana who played a pivotal role in consolidated and organizing the research work on crop improvement in the department.
A separate department of Genetics at PAU Ludhiana was established in December, 1970 with Dr. B.S. Gill as Professor and Head. A tissue culture unit was established in the Department of Plant Breeding. Keeping in view the emergence of new areas of Plant Biotechnology, A Biotechnology Centre was established in 1992. The infrastructure for carrying out research on genetic transformation and tissue culture was created. The Department of Genetics and Biotechnology was merged with Plant Breeding during the year 2003 with the name as the Department of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology. The department has decentralized working having nine crop based sections.
Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics
Punjab Agricultural University
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