Darshna "Dusty" Vyas has been a Senior Scientist at LGC specialising in plant genetics for the past 8 years Her contributions on the team have enabled the translation of LGC, Biosearch Technologies to the global plant breeding community in all species ranging across diverse sample types including wheat, cocoa, rubber, rice and aquaculture. Dusty's desire to understand our customers’ requirements and develop innovative products and services at Biosearch Technologies to improve global crop development isn't just a professional objective, but a personal one.
Dusty was the project manager for Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Generation Challenge Programme at Biosearch Technologies to ensure the successful application of KASP™ assay genotyping as an advanced molecular marker tool for breeding programs in developing countries undertaken for 12 agronomical important crops.
Training at the African Orphan Crops consortium and a successful Innovate UK grant application for the development of novel rice varieties in Nepal conferring disease resistance to BLAST and Blb, maximised the application of Dusty's experience and has aided her personal goal of reducing global nutritional malnutrition and increasing global agricultural sustainability.
"I have a lifelong commitment to aiding the development of tools and services for research and commercial agricultural crop improvement. I hope to achieve this goal as part of the Biosearch Technologies commitment to food of future security."
A 30-year career began at the James Hutton institute formerly the Scottish Crop Research Institute to develop molecular markers for disease resistance in raspberries. Dusty's knowledge on molecular marker development was further expanded at Biogemma UK Ltd where she worked for 13 years. She worked primarily on cereal crops such as wheat, maize and barley, focusing on SSR methodology development, GMO variety development, technology transfer and SNP discovery for starch biosynthetic enzymes.
The opportunity to participate in the Artemisia Project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at York University was an important step towards understanding the requirements by breeders for varietal development using molecular markers in marker assisted selection (MAS). Field trial management in Kenya, Uganda, China, India and Madagascar saw the development of successful commercial varieties of Artemisia for the sustainable supply of artemisinin for Artemisinin Combination Therapy production.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed new problems and exacerbated existing agricultural sustainability challenges, which include supply chain, climate change, and disease susceptibility in many crop species. It has opened up a new opportunity to adopt novel strategies to improve sustainability. From 14-25 of September, tweet Dusty @LGCBiosearch using the hashtag, #AskDusty, the revelations you’ve experienced with your breeding programs after the pandemic hit. How has this affected your concerns for crop development in the short term and long term?
Listen to one of the latest podcasts where Dusty describes her passion and drive for finding genomic solutions to global agricultural problems
Watch recent webinars where Dusty presented on the benefits of implementing targeted genotyping by sequencing in breeding programs:
Economic improvements of key traits in blueberry and cranberry through application of targeted genotyping by sequencing