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Posted at: Jun 9, 2018, 11:46 AM; last updated: Jun 9, 2018, 11:46 AM (IST)

NDRI to clone 25 elite buffalo bulls

Project with CIRB to meet demand of superior germplasm

Parveen Arora

The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) has allotted a major project for “production of multiple copies of elite buffalo bull by using animal cloning technique” to the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal. The NDRI had earlier produced 16 cloned calves, including 11 females.

Under the project, estimated to cost around Rs 5.74 crore, NDRI scientists with the help of scientists of the Central Institute for Research on Buffalo (CIRB), Hisar, will produce 25 elite bulls in four years to meet the increasing demand of superior germplasm in the country.

According to the data, there will be a demand of around180 million doses of frozen semen in India by 2021-22, while a large number of elite bulls are required every year to cover 60 million breedable buffaloes in the country.

With a production of more than 160 million tonnes of milk, India is the largest milk producer in the world. Nearly, 60 per cent of the total milk comes from buffaloes. 

The NDRI started its journey in cloning in 1997, but got success on February 6, 2009, when it cloned its first female calf, Samrupa, from a cell of Murrah buffalo produced with the help of hand-guided technique. But the calf could survive for only five days, says Prabhat Palta, head, Animal Bio-Technology Division, NDRI.

“As of now, we have produced 16 cloned animals using 11 types of somatic cells, including ear, milk, urine, blood, semen, and embryonic stem cell. Of the total cloned animals, eight are alive. The cloned animals of both genders are reproductively normal as demonstrated by the birth of female calves ‘Mahima’ in 2013 and ‘Karishma’ in 2014 following artificial insemination of Garima-II, a cloned buffalo. A female calf was also produced using the semen of a cloned bull named Shresht,” he says.

The ICAR has taken another step of taking the benefits of the cloning technology to farmers, so they could get access to semen from progeny-tested bulls, he adds. The semen produced from cloned bulls under the project, will be supplied to farmers. 

Dr RRB Singh, Director, NDRI, says the ICAR has assigned the project under the National Agricultural Science Fund. It will help in multiplication of elite bulls.

The NDRI has standardised hand-guided cloning technique, which is simple and highly efficient. It does not require expensive micro-manipulators and skilled manpower to operate it, the Director says.

The project will also focus on improving the birth rate of cloned animals, which is about 1 per cent, says Palta. The identification of an elite bull for getting cells for cloning will be done at the CIRB, Hisar, whereas the cloning process will be conducted at both NDRI and CIRB.

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