Guar gum from Cyamopsis tetragonoloba : a success story of Professor Randhawa at IIT, Roorkie.
"This gum prevents ice crystal formation and also creates the smooth, silky sheen in shampoos. As an additive gum is used extensively by cosmetics, textile, health and paper industry for retaining moisture, emulsifying and maintaining crispiness. For years researchers have been trying to identify this so called 'ice cream gene' which provides energy storage for seeds and cellulose to support cell walls in the guar plant. GS Randhawa, department of biosciences and biotechnology, IITRourkee, who was part of this research team in the final stage of the isolation process said, "This breakthrough in biotechnology research wherein the gene has been successfully isolated will be very beneficial as it can be transferred to the more widely grown soyabean crops." Preliminary investigation indicates that this gene is functionally expressed in soyabean seeds, producing mannan necessary to produce gum. This, however, does not spell good news for Indian exports of guar gum. Currently, 80 per cent of the world's guar is cultivated in India and 70 per cent of produce is concentrated in Rajasthan. Due to climatic vagaries the guar crop is subject to fluctuation in production. Randhawa explained that the primary aim of Dhugga's research team at Pioneer Hi-Bred International was to transfer this ice cream gene to more high yielding crops like soyabean. Stabilising the supply of this important food additive would benefit the food manufacturers and increase the demand for genetically modified soya crops. In addition to decoding the gene structure this discovery is also useful in understanding plant cell wall synthesis, the phenomenon propelling better plant growth, it's defence mechanisms against pathogen attacks. The gene identification technology can be used for transferring a beneficial and commercially viable property from one plant to other"