Isolation and characterization of genes involved in mutagenesis of crop plants

Background:

Although induced mutations has been widely used in crop breeding and basic research, the fundamental processes that lead to mutations and the molecular nature of mutations induced by physical mutagens remain largely unknown in plants. The rapid progress in functional genomics has provided unprecedented opportunities to study the mechanisms underpinning the response of plant genomes to physical and chemical mutagens. Recent advances in genomics have created an opportunity to apply our current knowledge of DNA repair and mutagenesis in model systems to crop plants. Furthermore, emerging reverse genetic tools enable direct analysis of consequences of various mutagenic treatments at molecular genetic levels.

Overall Objective:

The overall objective of this CRP is to understand the mechanisms of mutagenesis and molecular genetic features of induced mutation in plants, to provide the scientific basis for developing more efficient mutation techniques, and their proper use for crop improvement.

Specific Research Objective:

To isolate and characterize genes involved in mutagenesis and find out types of mutations induced by various physical mutagens in studied crop plants; and to generate mutants deficient in DNA repair pathways in crops and assess their usefulness for efficiency enhancement of mutation induction.

Expected Research Outputs:

  • A Plant Mutagenesis Database, publicly accessible for all Member Sates. It will include plant homologs of DNA damage response and repair genes from a variety of species, and a list of existing mutants defective in these genes.
  • Characterized homologs of genes involved in DNA repair and mutagenesis in crop plants.
  • A better understanding of the spectrum (the molecular genetic feature) of mutations induced by various mutagens.
  • Improved protocols for mutation induction and screening, i.e. proper mutation screening method for particular mutagens.
  • Genetic resources that could be used for efficient mutation induction. This refers to mutant lines deficient in genes involved in mutagenesis.
  • Research papers and other publications. The final results will be published as a priced book or as a special issue of scientific journals in the field of plant breeding and genetics, such as "EUPHYTICA", "Plant Breeding", or "Molecular Breeding".

Expected Research Outcomes:

The above outputs will eventually generate a vast amount of knowledge of the biological control of mutagenesis in crop plants, which will enable plant researchers and breeders to use mutation techniques more efficiently. The biological resources generated through the project can be used for further understanding of the mutagenesis process and for enhancing the efficiency of mutation induction. These, in turn, will transform plant mutation breeding into a knowledge-based, state of the art technology for crop improvement, and hence promote the use of nuclear techniques for developing superior varieties that can better adapt to climate change and produce more and better foods.

Project Officer:

Q.Y. Shu