Renowned biotechnologist, Prof Marc Van Montagu, who co-discovered the gene transfer mechanism between agrobacterium tumefaciens and plants and constructed the first chimerical plant gene, which resulted in the development of methods to alter agrobacterium into an efficient delivery system for plant gene engineering was felicitated by Avesthagen and the Association of Biotech Led Enterprises (ABEL) on Wednesday.
Speaking at this felicitation Prof Van Montagu said, ''Society needs biotech innovation. Big companies can innovate only to a small extent; its start ups like Avesthagen and others that will bring a variety of innovation to the world.''
Speaking on genetically modified crops in India he added, ''Every region should have clear, local regulatory processes where crops are adapted and tested in local climatic conditions.''
Dr Villoo Morawala Patell, founder and CMD, Avesthagen added, ''Prof Marc has been my source of inspiration. His model of innovation leading to applied research and resulting in company spin offs could be an ideal one for any company or research institution. We are very proud to have him on our board.''
Prof Van Montagu is the chairman of the Institute of Plant Biotechnology for Developing Countries (IPBO), Department of Molecular Genetics, Ghent University. Before becoming chair of IPBO in 1999, he was full-professor and director of the genetics laboratory at Ghent University, as well as scientific director of the genetics department at the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB).
He also founded the biotech company CropDesign and helped start Plant Genetic Systems, Inc, serving as its scientific director for several years.
Known for his discovery (with J Schell) of the gene transfer mechanism between agrobacterium and plants, Dr. Van Montagu went on to develop methods of altering agrobacterium to create an efficient delivery system for producing genetically engineered plants.
He also contributed to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of how plant cells proliferate and differentiate, and of plant responses to abiotic stresses such as intense light, ozone, and drought. His work with poplars resulted in engineering trees with improved pulping qualities, and enabling him to construct the first transgenic crops resistant to insect pests and tolerant to novel herbicides.
Prof. Van Montagu is also on the board of Avesthagen Limited and is a constant source of inspiration for the organisation. Avesthagen's Dr Patell has worked with Prof Van Montagu on several occasions.