Induced Mutations for Sesame Improvement


This CRP aims to foster research on mutagenesis in varieties of sesame of different origins and genetic backgrounds, the selection of desired types and their use in cross breeding.


Induced mutations are required to alter plant architecture and fruit and bring about higher yields and seed quality as well as reduced grain loss at harvest.
This CRP started in December 1993. The first Research Coordination Meeting was held in 1994 and the second in 1996. During these meetings recommendations were made on methods for mutagen treatment. For gamma rays, a dose range of 200-700 Gy proved successful in inducing useful mutations. The fast neutron irradiation of dry sesame seeds showed that doses between 40 and 70 Gy were effective. Treatments with EMS have proved successful (concentrations of 0.2 - 0.8%) as well as with sodium azide (4-6 mM).

The handling of different generations showed that a large number of M1 plants need to be grown, and 2-5 capsules per plant from the main stem should be harvested. In the M2 about 30-50 seeds from each M1 plant should be grown. The remaining seeds should be held in reserve for sowing in the subsequent seasons. The M3 generation should include progeny rows from individually selected M2 plants to confirm the mutations' nature, and to study their breeding behaviour and agronomic value. The M3 bulk should be planted to facilitate selection for various quantitative traits especially those affecting yield. In subsequent generations, the usual selection and evaluation procedures should be followed.

In this CRP, the exchange of sesame seeds from improved mutant lines with desired characters is very important. The necessity of crossing mutants with local and introduced varieties and of crossing different mutants was stressed. In some programmes this is a standard procedure and has proved successful in generating promising sesame lines with increased yield potential and superior performance. Breeding hybrid varieties may give a yield breakthrough in sesame as in other self pollinated crops. Certain F1 combinations in sesame showed marked yield increase. Hence, several participants are aiming at producing male sterile mutants.


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  • Report of First RCM, Vienna, Austria, 1994
  • Report of Second RCM, Antalya, Turkey, 1996
  • Report of Final RCM. IAEA-TECDOC-1195. January 2001. pp 1-171.

Project Officer:

P.J.L. Lagoda