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

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 For further details please feel free to contact project officer Ms Fatma Sarsu ( . Applications should be submitted by 01 May 2017 to