Enhancing the Efficiency of Induced Mutagenesis through an Integrated Biotechnology Pipeline


Food security, nutrition and health are key issues in the national agenda of government planning in many countries in the world. Humans require more than 25 mineral elements, which they cannot all synthesize. Recommended daily intakes and safe upper levels of many of these elements have been defined. The availability and intake of nutritious foods provides the required amount of calories, vitamins and minerals and ensures good health. In addition to forming the major components of human diets, providing the required calories and nutrients to sustain life, crop plants also contain most of the essential vitamins and deliver, either directly or indirectly, many of the essential mineral elements to the human diet. However, the major staple crops are often deficient in some of these vitamins and minerals and, in many areas of the world the basic diet does not provide them with sufficient quantities. Malnutrition, with respect to micronutrients like vitamin A, iron and zinc, affects >40% of the world's population. It is estimated that, of the 6 billion people in the world, 60-80% are Fe deficient, over 30% are Zn deficient and certain social groups do not receive sufficient Ca and Mg in their diets. Thus, the Copenhagen Consensus 2004 concluded that providing sufficient dietary micronutrients was among the most important research priorities for advancing global welfare.

Research Objective:

The CRP aims at utilizing the wealth of mutant germplasm in model crops, such as rice, tomato and barley, to understand and identify genes involved in the biosynthesis of nutritional quality enhancing factors, and to develop efficient screening methods to facilitate the genetic improvement of nutritional quality. The goal is to transfer knowledge and technologies of beneficial mutants associated with nutritional factors from model crops to improve the nutritional quality of other crops.

Expected Research Outputs:

The following resources will be generated by the end of the project:

  • New mutant germplasm collections from elite varieties of spinach and target crops.
  • Developed efficient phenotypic screening methods for resistant starch, increased carotenoids, decreased oxalate and increased tocopherols.
  • Developed efficient genotypic screening methods for genes affecting synthesis of resistant starch, increased carotenoids, decreased oxalate, decreased phytate and increased tocopherols.
  • Mutant lines with beneficial traits affecting resistant starch, increased carotenoids, decreased oxalate, decreased phytate and increased tocopherols and increased mineral concentration (Fe, Zn, Ca, Mg).
  • Scientific publications resulting from research results.

Expected Research Outcomes:

  • Availability of advanced mutant resources for nutritionists, breeders, geneticists in National Agriculture Research Systems (NARS) in Member State countries.
  • Increased knowledge of the metabolic pathways and genes affecting phytate, carotenoids and tocopherol biosynthesis.
  • Established research linkages between scientists in Member States to address genetic improvement of nutritional quality enhancing factors in crops.

Project Officer:

Y. Lokko