New Coordinated Research Projects

Call for Submission of Research Proposals for a new FAO/IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP) on Improving Resilience to Drought in Rice and Sorghum through Mutation Breeding (D23031)

CRP at a Glance

The IAEA, in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is announcing a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) on biotic-stress tolerance in chickpea, cowpea and lentil, with a time frame of five years during 2019-2023.

Pulses are important food crops in smallholder agriculture in Africa and Asia, and in several instances, they are also grown for fodder. Because of their vital role in human and soil health, farmers grow these crops with cereals to not only meet the diversified food needs but also for maintaining soil health. Leguminous crops are known to add nitrogen to the soil through biological nitrogen fixation, and can be grown without added nitrogen fertilizers thus contributing to reduced carbon footprint. Among the pulse crops, chickpea, cowpea, and lentil are popular choices for the smallholder farmers in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa as they thrive well even under limited external inputs. These crops are the mainstay of dryland farming systems.

The productivity of pulses is generally low in most developing countries, average yields ranging from about 0.5 to a little over 1 tonne per ha. Yields are reduced further by the incidence of several biotic and abiotic stresses. The fact that pulses are self-pollinated has led to a narrow genetic diversity in many of these crops.

In this CRP, mutation induction and associated genomics technologies will be used for productivity improvement of three pulses, namely, chickpea, cowpea and lentil, which together account for 40% of global pulses’ production. The research focus is on enhancing the tolerances of: (1) chickpea to the pod borer, Helicoverpa armigera; (2) cowpea to the bod borer, Maruca vitrata, and (3) lentil to the disease, Stemphylium blight. Towards this end, the CRP, with the expected participation of the National Agricultural Research System of countries where the crops are grown extensively, shall over a period of four to five years, generate mutant populations, including advanced lines, and develop, validate and publish genotyping and phenotyping protocols.

Mutation induction is an established means to generate heritable variation in crops and therefore holds great promise to diversify further the genetic base of pulses, enhancing their adaptation to the pressures induced by the effects of climate change, especially the frequent emergence of new biotypes and strains of pests and diseases. The Mutant Variety Database of the IAEA identifies 23, 18 and 13 varieties, respectively, of chickpea, lentil and cowpea, released from past efforts in mutation breeding using irradiation (gamma rays) and chemical (EMS) mutations.

Overall Objective

This CRP aims to develop genetic resources through induced mutations and associated genomic tools for accelerated adaptation of pulses-based cropping systems to climate change.

Specific Research Objectives

  • To generate genetic diversity in chickpea, cowpea and lentil through mutagenesis for resistance to Helicoverpa armigera, Maruca vitrata and Stemphylium botryosum, respectively.
  • To develop and/or refine phenotyping tools to facilitate precise (confident) and efficient selection of biotic-stress resistance in selected pulse crops.
  • To develop genomic tools for accelerated variety development for the selected pulse crops and associated traits of interest.

Outputs

  • Mutant population(s) generated for chickpea, cowpea and lentil.
  • Experimental physiological, genetic and molecular protocols of mutants for confirmation drought tolerance.
  • Improved lines identified for traits of interest.
  • Molecular markers and associated protocols developed for variety development/improvement.
  • Scientific publications produced.
  • Protocols and training manuals developed and disseminated.

How to join the CRP

Up to seven research contracts are expected to be awarded together with up to five no-cost agreement holders from advanced laboratories. Research institutes with recognized expertise in the targeted technologies will be invited to share their experience with the contract holders and contribute to the development and validation of the planned technical packages. In addition, up to three technical contracts will be awarded for services in advanced areas such as marker development and mutant characterization. Coordination and technical management will be handled by the scientific secretary in the IAEA’s Plant Breeding and Genetics Section with involvement of Plant Breeding and Genetics Laboratory.

Please submit your Proposal for Research Contract or Agreement by email, no later than 30 Apr 2019, to the IAEA’s Research Contracts Administration Section, using the appropriate template on the CRA web portal. Note that the same form can be used for the research contract and technical contract.

For further information related to this CRP, potential applicants should use the contact form under the CRP page.





Call for Submission of Research Proposals for a new FAO/IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP) on Improving Resilience to Drought in Rice and Sorghum through Mutation Breeding (D23031)

CRP at a Glance

Drought is the most devastating abiotic stress factor worldwide affecting crop production and projected to worsen with anticipated climate change. It severely limits plant growth and development as well as agricultural characteristics resulting in reduction of crop yields. Improving drought tolerance in crops, to increase the efficiency of water use and to enhance agricultural water productivity under rain-fed conditions is among top priority for most countries. Among various agro-ecologies, Africa and South Asia are considered to be the most vulnerable to climate change and both have large numbers of poor populations constrained with meagre access to basic resources of water and productive land.

This CRP will focus on improving rice and sorghum to drought tolerance for current and future climate change scenarios. These two crops are essential staples in the diets of millions of impoverish and vulnerable populations, and therefore any attempt in increasing their yields under drought stress could have a major and positive impact in terms of food security and income generation.

The project seeks to combine expertise in field, green house and laboratory to enhance mutation breeding and to develop robust protocols for rapid advancement of generations, and efficient screening packages of mutant populations for drought tolerance. Screening packages will be optimized for phenotyping and genotyping for drought tolerance to develop/adapt technology for accelerated identification of drought tolerant rice and sorghum mutants. Accelerating techniques such as rapid cycling of crop generation and efficiency enhancing technologies of doubled haploid, genomics and molecular markers will be adapted in the CRP as appropriate.

Up to eight research contracts are expected to be awarded and five no-cost agreement holders from advanced laboratories and research institutes with recognized expertise in the targeted technologies will be invited to share their experience with the contract holders and contribute to the development and validation of the planned technical packages. In addition, it is foreseen that two technical contracts will be awarded for services in advance. The expected duration of the CRP is 5 years (2017-2021).

Nuclear Component

Sorghum and rice mutant populations will be developed using physical mutagens (such as X-ray, gamma-ray, ion beam etc.). These populations will be used for developing and adapting protocols for generation advancement and screening of drought tolerant mutant germplasm.

Overall Objective

Improving drought resilience of rice and sorghum germplasm through induced mutation and development/adaptation of screening techniques for sustainable food security.

Specific Research Objectives

  • To develop robust protocols for rapid advancement of generation, efficient screening of mutant populations for drought tolerance.
  • To generate drought tolerant rice and sorghum mutant germplasm.
  • To disseminate methods and guidelines to the broader plant breeding and research communities.

Expected Research Outputs

  • Robust greenhouse, screen house and field based phenotyping screening protocols and guidelines developed for accelerated identification of drought tolerant rice and sorghum mutants.
  • Experimental physiological, genetic and molecular protocols of mutants for confirmation drought tolerance.
  • Drought tolerant rice and sorghum mutant germplasm identified for current and future climate change scenarios.
  • Capacity building in efficient mutation breeding and screening techniques for drought tolerance in rice and sorghum.
  • Scientific publications, guidelines, brochures and protocols generated from the findings of the research activities.

Criteria for CRP participation

  • On-going projects in rice and/or sorghum mutation breeding and have M2 populations/M3 lines would be advantage.
  • Track record of working with at least one of the crops.
  • Appropriate capacity, infrastructure, and equipment to implement the project.
  • Previous publication track record.

How to join the CRP?

Scientists and researchers who are interested in collaborating in this new CRP should apply for research contracts. Information on the IAEA Coordinated Research Programme and how to apply can be found at https://cra.iaea.org/cra/index.html. For further details please feel free to contact project officer Ms Fatma Sarsu (F.Sarsu@iaea.org) . Applications should be submitted by 01 May 2017 to research.contracts@iaea.org.