Plant Breeding and Genetics

Plant Breeding and Genetics

The Plant Breeding and Genetics Section assists FAO and IAEA Member States in the implementation of innovative and effective plant breeding programmes using radiation induced mutation, mutation detection and pre-breeding technologies. This is done through research and development (R&D), capacity development, policy advice, technology transfer and technical support and assistance via Coordinated Research Projects (CRPs) and Technical Cooperation Projects (TCPs).

The overall aim is to enhance global food security through sustainable crop production using strategic fundamental and applied crops sciences research. Our work is driven by Member State demands, and the MSs are the recipients of technology transfer, capacity development, policy advice, materials and information. The major target is yield and yield stability, but this encompasses developing crops with greater resilience to climate change. Quality traits, especially nutritious foods, are also high on the agenda of Member States.

Mutation breeding is hugely successful. The wide use of mutation induction for crop improvement is documented in the FAO/IAEA Mutant Variety Database, which includes more than 3200 officially released mutant varieties from 214 different plant species in more than 60 countries throughout the world. Over 1,000 mutant varieties of major staple crops, cultivated on tens of millions of hectares enhance rural income, improve human nutrition and contribute to environmentally sustainable food security in the world.

Highlights
Induction, rapid fixation and retention of mutations in vegetatively propagated banana Induction, rapid fixation and retention of mutations in vegetatively propagated banana. A team of the Plant Breeding and Genetics Laboratory at the IAEA Laboratories Seibersdorf has investigated the nature and inheritance of mutations that have been induced in shoot apical meristems of banana. They found out that genotypically heterogeneous stem cells resulting from mutagenic treatment are rapidly sorted to fix a single genotype in the meristem. The results among others will be useful to speed up the process of mutation breeding in vegetatively propagated crops. The story has been published in the Plant Biotechnology Journal and also was chosen for the journal cover. Read More »
Responding to the Transboundary Threat of Wheat Black Stem Rust (Ug99) Responding to the Transboundary Threat of Wheat Black Stem Rust (Ug99). Mutation activities target rust diseases with emphasis on Ug99 to contribute to an eventually broadened gene base for rust resistance. Mutant lines that have resistance to Ug99, once selected, will effectively counter the threat to global wheat and barley production, the menace of Ug99. Read More »
Improved barley varieties - Feeding people from the equator to the arctic Improved barley varieties - Feeding people from the equator to the arctic. The weather conditions in the high Peruvian Andes, with their propensity for severe storms that bring with them high winds and hail, are not exactly hospitable for growing grains. But thanks to the work done by the Peru’s national agricultural research system together with the FAO/IAEA’s Plant Breeding and Genetics subprogram, barley varieties now exist that can be planted 3 000–5 000 metres up those mountains. These hearty grain improved varieties have become a lifeline for people who live at those altitudes, providing dependable as well as nutritious yields and now accounting for 90 per cent of the barley produced in Peru. Read More »
Successful Mutation Breeding Programmes in Vietnam Successful Mutation Breeding Programmes in Vietnam. From the lab to the farmerVietnam is a developing agricultural country having 73.5% of its population living in the rural area. Crop production plays an important role in national food security and the rural development of Vietnam. Nuclear techniques have been applied in food and agriculture for improving national food security since the 1970’s. With continuous assistance in technology adaptation and transfer and capacity building from the Joint FAO/IAEA Programme (NAFA/AGE) through Agency’s CRPs and national and regional TCPs, great achievements have been made in mutation breeding for crop improvement by the use of nuclear techniques and related biotechniques. Read More »