Female researcher prparing gels for analysis in the laboratory of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute. - - Establishment of a Phytotron Facility at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute: IND/90/007. Organization of the United Nations, acting as executing agency for the United Nations Development Programme, set up the project, which was designed to establish a functioning phytotron facility carrying out a programme of research on issues of national importance at IARI (the Indian Agricultural Research Institute). The project aimed to improve productivity of cereals, pulses and oilseeds through better understanding of the genetic control of physiological characters that could be turned to advantage by evolving new varieties.
The Phytotron Facility is a highly technically advanced system of growth chamber that simulates any type of geographic conditions in the Indian sub-continent in order to accelerate breeding of new varieties and increase crop resistance, etc. Experiments are conducted on crop productivity. Genetic engineering activities are carried out that require the exact replication of micro-climatic conditions, such as regeneration of plants from tissue culture. There is also germ-plasm evaluation and breeding.
To permit year round crop selection and breeding, a facility of controlled environmental conditions is required. Although a phytotron is designed to be automated to the maximum extent, it needs to be regularly attended by expert staff to ensure the precise conditions required by researchers. It is a 24-hour facility kept in working condition throughout the year and is an integral part of genetic, physiological and biotechnical applications for crop improvement and protection.