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Franco-Indian Summit, 9 to 15 March 2018

Genomic selection, microbiota, development of methanisation, nutrition…  INRA and India strengthen ties  

From 9-15 March 2018, on the occasion of the French President’s visit to India, accompanied by the Minister of Research and Philippe Mauguin, President of INRA, several draft agreements were signed with a view to strengthening cooperation with France’s Indian partners. Several new International Associated Laboratories were created in key fields: genomic selection in cattle; the microbiota and metagenome in liver disease; grey water treatment and methanisation; and the plant protein content of diets. Philippe Mauguin and Mr. G.G. Sohani, president of Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation (BAIF), together hosted a roundtable discussion during the Franco-Indian summit. This shone a light on the importance of agricultural research on climate change and nutrition, and resulted in a proposal for a new framework for Franco-Indian collaboration in these fields based on pilot territories.  

Updated on 03/29/2018
Published on 03/21/2018

On the occasion of the presidential visit, INRA renewed or signed several draft agreements with partners in four key areas:
  
- Genomic selection of cattle: renewal of the framework agreement with Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation (BAIF) and project for an International Associated Laboratory (LIA) with BAIF.

For twenty years now, INRA has been working with the biggest Indian NGO in agriculture (which has the status of a research centre), the BAIF. The updated themes of this cooperation focus on the following: sustainable production systems and water management using an agro-ecological approach; the environment/climate change interface; global initiatives such as the 4  per 1000 initiative; and genetic/genomic animal selection.
Concerning the latter, an LIA project was signed between INRA and BAIF. Advances in bovine selection, initially slow, now hold great promise for cross-bred animals and one or two indigenous breeds (performance assessments of several thousand animals in six contrasting states) with the development of an adapted genomic microchip. Now, the goal is to put a genomic evaluation in place, then to extend genomic selection by sharing BAIF knowledge with other Indian partners, notably the institutes of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
    
- Microbiota and  metagenomics in liver disease:  an LIA project with the  Institute of Liver and Biliary Science (ILBS) in New Delhi.
Through this collaboration, initiated in 2013, and this future LIA, INRA provides unique know-how in metagenomics and animal models while ILBS brings clinical investigative potential unmatched anywhere else (number of patients in different stages of liver disease; very advanced biological and physio-pathological phenotyping; established bio-bank of samples). Research will focus on determining microbiota signatures in patient response to corticosteroids, metagenomic analyses in the context of treatment by the transfer of faecal microbiota and the use of agents intended to act concomitantly on intestinal permeability, inflammation, systemic oxidative stress and the microbiota.  
  
- Treatment of grey water and methanisation: LIA project with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore.
Since 2002, INRA’s Laboratory of Environmental Biotechnology (LBE) in Narbonne has been forging ties with Indian research labs located for the most part in southern India. These joint research and exchange projects focused on treating hypersaline effluents (in particular produced by Indian tanneries), issues related to water, and developing new processes to offset pollution. Since June 2016, both partners are committed to the project, funded by the Franco-Indian centre for promoting advanced research (CEFIPRA) on water, “GreyWatNet” on the small-scale treatment of household grey water, with a view to recycling.
  
As a reminder, INRA is also part of the Indo-French Cell for Water Sciences (IFCWS), created in 2001 by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc, Bangalore) and IRD. This long-term partnership brings together five French research bodies (IRD, INRA, CNRS, Université Paul Sabatier and Université Pierre & Marie Curie) with three Indian research institutes. The goal of IFCWS is to carry out integrated and interdisciplinary research on water and soil in India, from plant-soil to sub-continent level. It consists of the following research themes: adapting ecosystems and agricultural systems to climate change, the ocean-continent-atmosphere continuum, the water cycle and climatic variability, biotechnology and environmental bioremediation, and urban hydrology.
    
- Protein content in diets: LIA project “Protein and Nutrition Security” with the Saint John Research Institute (SJRI) in Bangalore.
The fruitful collaboration between INRA and SJRI led to a proposal to create an LIA entitled “Protein and Nutrition Security”. The goal is to provide reference data on protein and amino acid requirements of different populations with different physiological, pathological and environmental profiles. Another goal of the study: using the metabolic bioavailability of amino acids from different food protein sources currently available in different regions of the world, or currently being developed, as alternative sources for ensuring the nutritional security of future populations. Lastly, researchers will study the implications of these data to formulate nutritional recommendations while taking into account the nutritional needs of populations and sustainability issues linked to agricultural production and food production.
  
Lastly, the French and Indian government space agencies, CNES and ISRO respectively, have announced the next Franco-Indian satellite designed by Jean-Pierre Lagouarde of INRA Bordeaux. It has been baptised with the Hindi name “Trishna” meaning “thirst” or “intense desire”. A latest-generation infrared satellite, Trishna will allow scientists to characterise the water cycle on a global scale, by detailed mapping of evapotranspiration. This will provide the determining parameters for agriculture and for climate research, and help implement the Paris Agreement as agreed last December during the One Planet Summit.

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