Founded in 1958, the Tobacco Research Institute (TRI) of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) is responsible for tobacco agricultural science and technology research at the central government level in China. After development of more than half a century, TRI is a now a comprehensive research institution that has a wide range of academic disciplines with a number of national leading subjects, and a large group of specialized experts capable of high-level science and technology innovation as well as transformation of the achievements. Over the years TRI has received numerous honors including the Civilized Work Unit of Shandong Province and CAAS, Outstanding Basic Party Organization in the city of Qingdao and within CAAS.
I SCIENTIFIC PLATEFORMS A total of 18 national, provincial and ministerial level innovation platforms and international cooperation platforms are affiliated with TRI, among which are the National Tobacco Improvement Center, the Key Laboratory of Tobacco Biology and Processing of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the National Tobacco Breeding (North) Center, and the China-Canada Joint Laboratory of Integrated Plant Pest Management. Areas of research focus in TRI include tobacco genetics and breeding, tobacco functional genomics, tobacco physiology and cultivation, theory and technology of tobacco curing, modern agriculture technology in tobacco growing areas, special economic crops in Shandong, quality and safety assessment of tobacco products, functional components and comprehensive utilization of tobacco, control of tobacco diseases and insect pests, development and utilization of agriculture in the intertidal zone.
II RESEARCH TEAMS TRI currently has 203 employees, 158 of whom are technical professionals. Among them are 26 professors, 46 associate professors, and 51 graduate student advisors. A hundred and two TRI employees have a doctoral or master’s degree. Seventeen TRI researchers have been granted Special Government Allowances of the State Council. The institute is also home to 3 MOA Experts With Outstanding Contribution, one Shandong provincial Expert With Outstanding Contribution, one scientist selected for the New Century Talents Project, one candidate for the Shennong Program of MOA, one chief scientist of the National Special Fund for Scientific Research in the Public Interest, two tobacco industry discipline leaders, and five scientists holding a Outstanding Talent Position (Level 2 and 3) from CAAS. One Yangtze River Scholar and one Taishan Scholar hold special-term appointments at TRI. The institute has developed an integrative talent cultivation system including the training of regular postgraduate students, postdoctoral scholars, foreign students, graduate students for equivalent education, students for professional Master’s degrees and graduate students for combined training. TRI enrolls around 110 graduate students annually.
III SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENTS As one of the first groundbreaking contributors in haploid breeding and the possessor of the world’s largest collection of tobacco germplasm resources, TRI has been playing a leading role in the nation’s tobacco agriculture research. Some of the recent achievements include leading the effort in sequencing the tobacco genome, and generation/maintenance of the largest collection of tobacco mutants in the world. Since its founding, research in TRI has led to 166 scientific and technological achievements, of which 13 have been awarded with the national level and 69 with the provincial level prizes. Over 30 new tobacco varieties have been developed in the institute. More than 60 national and industry standards have been drafted or amended by TRI scientists. Furthermore, scientists in TRI have edited more than 40 books, and published over 3000 articles in related fields. Chinese Tobacco Science (formerly China Tobacco), an academic journal edited and published by the institute, has been selected as “Core Journals of China”, “Chinese Core Journals of Science and Technology”, “Chinese Top 100 Outstanding Academic Journals”, and “China High-quality Sci-tech Periodicals”. The journal currently has a citation impact factor of 1.523.
IV TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER In cooperation with more than 80% of the cigarette industrial enterprises in China, TRI has set up multiple technology transfer platforms nationwide such as the Raw Material Research and Development Center of China Tobacco Shandong Industrial Corporation. Substantial progress has been made in establishing raw materials supply system, development of high-quality tobacco leaves with specific characteristics, assessment and control of product quality and safety, and study on high-efficient output model in modern agriculture of tobacco growing areas. Based on the 85 core technology demonstration parks located in 43 tobacco growing areas from 17 provinces, a technology transfer network covering 2/3 of the tobacco growing areas in China has been established to promote agriculture through applying scientific and technological advances, leading to a 1 billion Yuan increase in tobacco growers’ annual income. TRI’s achievements on technology transfer and contributions to agriculture and rural development have been widely reported by public media including the China Central Television, People’s Daily, Science and Technology Daily, and Farmers' Daily.
V INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION TRI has accumulatively sent 10 of its own experts to developing countries for technical cooperation as part of China’s foreign-aid program. Over 100 TRI scientists have visited countries including USA, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Brazil and Zimbabwe for academic exchanges and/or collaborations. Meantime, more than 200 renowned foreign scientists have visited the institute. TRI has long-term cooperation with a number of foreign institutions including Cornell University and the US Horticultural Research Laboratory. The China-Canada Joint Laboratory of Integrated Plant Pest Management has been set up in cooperation with the University of Guelph, Canada.
VI SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT FACILITIES TRI has 60,000 square meters of dedicated laboratory space, which is equipped with over 1300 pieces of state-of-the-art instruments. TRI also has 68.7 hectares of land for field experiments. A collection of more than 5300 accessions of tobacco germplasm resources is being maintained in the institute. Moreover, the institute houses a library of over 60,000 books, documents, and periodicals relevant to tobacco sciences.
Facing the future, TRI will continue to uphold the principles of independent innovation while being open and cooperative, focusing on key points for breakthrough in order to lead in the future, serving the industry to support further development, and making people-oriented integrative plans. To fulfill the missions of “meeting the major industrial demand for science and technology” and “becoming a world-class agricultural research institution”, TRI is determined to make every effort to accelerate innovation in science and technology, moving forward to achieve leapfrogging development towards a modernized leading institution for agricultural research.