Disease Resistance in Rice and Wheat for Better Adaptation to Climate Change

The IAEA, in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is announcing a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) on disease resistance in rice and wheat with a time frame of four years.

A range of diseases are responsible for hindering yield improvements in both rice and wheat. Changing climatic conditions are helping diseases spread to new localities and exacerbating their impact. In addition to the already widespread diseases of rice, such as blast, sheath blight, false smut and bacterial leaf blight, emerging diseases, like wheat blast, are increasingly becoming serious threats.

To minimize the impact of such diseases, environment-friendly and cost-effective technologies are needed to help prevent and manage them. The use of mutation breeding techniques to develop disease resistant varieties is a viable tool in the development of appropriate germplasms and varieties.

Mutations are one of the primary sources of genetic variation in any organism, including plants. The use of mutation induction in generating new germplasm and developing new disease resistant varieties in rice and wheat is an efficient and valuable approach in crop improvement and has been very successful in rice and wheat breeding. More than 820 rice varieties and 255 wheat varieties have been developed by mutation breeding using mostly physical mutagens (https://mvd.iaea.org/#!Home).

CRP Overall Objective:

This CRP aims to improve disease resistance in rice and wheat through induced mutation/mutation breeding and development of screening techniques for sustainable food security.

Specific Research Objectives

  • To generate genetic diversity and develop rice lines resistant to important diseases (blast, sheath blight, bacterial blight, false smut).
  • To develop protocols for the screening of rice mutants resistant to diseases.
  • To develop molecular markers for disease resistance using available mutant germplasm.
  • To generate mutant wheat populations and develop screening methods for resistance to wheat blast.


  • Improved rice and wheat mutant germplasm as novel sources of disease resistance generated.
  • Efficient laboratory, screen-house or field-based screening protocols and techniques for identification of mutants with improved resistance to diseases developed.
  • Molecular marker/s developed.
  • Publications from the findings of the research activities generated.

Project Officer:

L. Jankuloski and I.K. Bimpong