AGROBIOINSTITUTE (ABI) has been established in 2000, according to Regulations for the National Centre of Agricultural Sciences (NCAS) to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food (MAF) (Decision № 270, Council of Ministers, published in SG №. 107/28 December2000). ABI is a successor of the Central Laboratory of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Biotechnology (genetic engineering) (CLMGGB) – Kostinbrod founded in 1985 to the Agricultural Academy (AA) renamed as Central Laboratory of Genetic Engineering (CLGE), developed further into Institute of Genetic Engineering (IGE) – Kostinbrod in 1989.
Since 2003 г. the residence of ABI is: 1164 Sofia, 8 Dragan Tsankov Blvd., Faculty of Biology, SofiaUniversity “St. Kliment Ohridski”, 4th flour, south-east wing.
The research of ABI is chaired by Scientific Council (SC). ABI is the only institute in the country, whose activities have been evaluated and directed since 1988 by the International Consultative Council (ICC) – leading foreign and national scientists in plant biotech area are ICC members. Since 1995 ABI represents Bulgaria at the International Centre of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (I.C.G.E.B.), Trieste, Italy. From 1995 to 1997 ABI has been included in Norman Borlaug Institute for Plant Research at the De Montfort University (DMU), Leicester, UK, together with institutes and universities from UK, Czech Republic and China. In 1999 the Institute has been selected as a Centre of Excellence in plant biotechnology in the frames of INCO 2, FP5 EC Programme, and is responsible for the co-ordination of scientific investigations and training in the field of plant biotech on the national and regional level. Since 2000 ABI is a member of European Plant Science Organization (EPSO), since 2002 – member of European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) and sub-regional centre for Eastern Europe in the field of regulations and a control of GMO.
In 2001 ABI and Sofia University “St. Kl. Ohridski”, Faculty of Biology registered joint company – AgroBioTech Park LTD. Since 2004 ABI became a founder of Black Sea Biotechnology Association (BSBA). In 2007 ABI took up the initiative to establish Joint Genome Center (JGC) – joint infrastructure project between Sofia University “St. Kl. Ohridski” and Agricultural Academy.
The main purpose of ABI is to conduct fundamental investigations in the area of cellular, functional and molecular genetics aiming to solve practical problems. Methods and technologies for clonal micropropagation in vitro, systems for in vitro regeneration of somatic and reproductive cells, in vitroselection of resistant plant forms, production of biologically active compounds in plant tissue and cell cultures, the application of ELISA technique and specific antibodies for plant viruses taxonomy, cellular and biochemical markers during in vitro cultivation, DNA based marker systems for diagnostic purposes, variety testing and identification, methods and techniques for gene transfer etc. are routinely applied.
The main achievements of ABI are: development of new forms possessing economically important traits (resistance/tolerance to diseases and herbicides, improved food and feed quality, CMS donors, development of technologies for in vitro cultivation of medical plants etc.). Preservation of plant genetic resource is one of the main research and practical area. Development, improvement and application of GMO low and biosafety, risk assessment and public perceptance are in the focus of ABI’ activities.
The main research units of ABI are working groups (presently: plant genetic resources, abiotic stress, biotic stress, functional genetics – legumes, functional genetics – cereals, molecular genetics, bioinformatics and biotechnological information centre).
ABI ensures the success of scientific investigations based on project principles – from the budget, as a legal entity in the frame of AA, second disposer of funds trough MAF, and AA respectively; competitive projects – National Fund “Scientific Investigations” (NF “SI”), Ministry of Education and Science (MES); European Commission’ Framework Programs (FP 5, FP 6 and FP 7) and others international organizations ((ICGEB, MAAE, NATO, COST и др.); bilateral projects; contracts with national and international companies, private persons, donations etc.
ABI has well equipped laboratory and field facilities, as well as well trained permanent staff: totally 50 persons, including 24 researchers (1 Full Member of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1 Professor, Dr. Sci, 13 Senior scientists, PhD, and 9 Research fellows, PhD.)
Education in plant biotech is one of the main missions of ABI. From 2001 and now the institute is accredited for PhD training on Genetics (code 01.06.06) and Plant protection (code 04.01.10). Since 1985, 104 PhD thesises have been elaborated, 77 of them successfully defended (+ 2 under procedure of defense). At present 9 PhD students are extra-staff in ABI. According to agreements between ABI and higher schools, joint MSC programs are realized and scientists from ABI are lecturers in student’ education.
Since 1985 ABI organized 75 international scientific events. Fundamental and applied results have been published in scientific publications, books, brochures, etc.