Areas of Work

Celebrating 50 Years 1964 - 2014, Joint FAO/IAEA Division The Plant Breeding and Genetics section focuses on mutation breeding to increase the diversity of desired traits for crop production and hence to accelerate the breeding of varieties with higher yield and improved quality, yield stability and greater resistance/tolerance to environmental stresses such as disease, drought and salinity.

The section is a global leader in the use of irradiation for the induction of genetic mutations in plants for breeding purposes, an accelerated version of nature’s naturally occurring process of spontaneous mutations. To induce mutations, scientists use small doses of radiation that speed up this natural process, thus providing valuable resources to breeders – plants that are disease resistant and resilient to climatic changes, new varieties with higher yield, greater yield stability, higher levels of nutrition, improved resistance to pests and diseases and tolerance to environmental stresses such as drought and salinity. Mutation induction enhances plant breeding by creating genetic variations without the introduction of foreign hereditary material.

The technique increases the adaptability of important crops to the negative effects of climate change, making them more resilient in a sustainable way. The application of nuclear technologies accelerates the plant breeding process by producing the desired traits, while preserving most of the genetic background of the adapted or existing commercial varieties or preferred local landraces. It is environmentally friendly and increases the diversity of desired traits in important crops. As more and more mutant crop varieties are released to farmers, they make great contributions to local, national and regional food security.

For more information visit Plant Breeding and Genetics website.