Plant Breeding and Genetics

Plant Breeding and Genetics

The Plant Breeding and Genetics Section assists FAO and IAEA Member States in the implementation of innovative and effective plant breeding programmes using radiation induced mutation, mutation detection and pre-breeding technologies. This is done through research and development (R&D), capacity development, policy advice, technology transfer and technical support and assistance via Coordinated Research Projects (CRPs) and Technical Cooperation Projects (TCPs).

The overall aim is to enhance global food security through sustainable crop production using strategic fundamental and applied crops sciences research. Our work is driven by Member State demands, and the MSs are the recipients of technology transfer, capacity development, policy advice, materials and information. The major target is yield and yield stability, but this encompasses developing crops with greater resilience to climate change. Quality traits, especially nutritious foods, are also high on the agenda of Member States.

Mutation breeding is hugely successful. The wide use of mutation induction for crop improvement is documented in the FAO/IAEA Mutant Variety Database, which includes more than 3200 officially released mutant varieties from 214 different plant species in more than 60 countries throughout the world. Over 1,000 mutant varieties of major staple crops, cultivated on tens of millions of hectares enhance rural income, improve human nutrition and contribute to environmentally sustainable food security in the world.

Highlights
Cuban rice variety stays popular in Cuba’s fields and cuisine after almost 20 years Cuban rice variety stays popular in Cuba’s fields and cuisine after almost 20 years. Cuban cooking represents a blend of many cuisines, including Spanish, African, Caribbean and Native American, with one ingredient connecting them all – rice. Rice is the central ingredient of so many dishes that per capita rice consumption is as high as 60 kg a year. To meet this demand, Cuba introduced the high-yielding INCA LP-7 mutant variety in 1997. It thrives in the Cuban climate, is tolerant to salinity and resists the panicle rice mites that plague Cuba’s rice fields. Read More »
Tackling Coffee Disease with Nuclear Science Tackling Coffee Disease with Nuclear Science. Coffee is the world's most popular drink. But coffee plants are being threatened by coffee leaf rust, a fungal disease found in most coffee-producing countries. The IAEA, together with the FAO and co-sponsored by OFID, is training scientists how to use plant mutation breeding to develop coffee plant varieties that are resistant to this disease. Watch Video »
Pulses for a Sustainable Future Pulses for a Sustainable Future. An event to celebrate the International Year of Pulses (2016) took place this week at the Vienna International Centre. The year 2016 was declared the International Year of Pulses by the 68th UN General Assembly to help raise public awareness of the nutritional benefits and the role of pulses in sustainable food production. The Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture organized this event to highlight the role of pulses in enhancing the sustainability of agricultural cropping systems. Read More / Watch Video »
Plant mutation breeding enhance crop productivity and food security in drought-prone environments in Namibia Plant mutation breeding enhance crop productivity and food security in drought-prone environments in Namibia. Agriculture is a major contributor to the Namibian economy and is highly correlated to growth and development. The country has semi-arid and arid climatic condition regions and is one of the driest countries of sub-Saharan Africa, consequently crop yields are severely limited by drought. The IAEA, in partnership with FAO, has supported the country’s national crop improvement programme helping to apply plant mutation breeding techniques to develop new mutant lines with high yield potential and enhanced tolerance to drought conditions for drought affected farms. Read More »
Climate Change Adaptation: Boosting Quinoa Production Using Nuclear Techniques. In the battle to help developing countries overcome threats from declining food production caused by climate change, one species of edible grain-like crop has caught international attention because of its unique nutritional value. New and improved varieties of quinoa, historically grown in the highlands of South America, will be made available to farmers in mutations adapted to challenging environments in Bolivia and Peru. Read More »
IAEA Impact: Plant Mutation Breeding Helps Bangladesh to Feed Its Growing Population. Villages in the northern region of Bangladesh used to struggle with poverty and hunger during the long months of the ‘monga’ periods, but they are now bustling as farmers and workers harvest new crop varieties developed using nuclear techniques. “‘Monga’ is a Bengali word meaning ‘starvation,’” explained Mirza Mofazzal Islam, Principal Scientific Officer and Head of the Biotechnology Division at the Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA). It is used to describe the time between mid-September and mid-November and from March to April, when “there is no work for the farm workers. They suffer; they are foodless,” said Mofazzal Islam. Read More »
Can Gamma Rays Help Save the World’s Favourite Fruit? Can Gamma Rays Help Save the World’s Favourite Fruit?. ... A new research project, supported by the IAEA in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), will focus on the development of technology to speed up the breeding of disease-resistant banana and coffee plant varieties. Read More »
Sorghum Mutation Breeding for Improving Tolerance to Abiotic Stresses brought about by Climate Change Sorghum Mutation Breeding for Improving Tolerance to Abiotic Stresses brought about by Climate Change. Mutation breeding has been successful in the Indonesian sorghum improvement program. It increases the added value of sorghum as food, feed, fiber and fuel source. The released sorghum mutant varieties have a big potential to increase marginal land productivity, improve soil fertility, stimulate sustainable agriculture development, promote economic growth, and ensure future food and energy security. Last but not least, sorghum is probably the most suitable crop for mitigating climate change. Read More »

Previous Highlights