Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
The year 2008 marks the 80th anniversary of mutation induction in plants. The application of mutation techniques, i.e. Gamma-rays and other physical and chemical mutagens, has generated a vast amount of genetic variability and has played a significant role in plant breeding and genetic studies. The widespread use of induced mutants in plant breeding programmes throughout the world has led to the official release of more than 2,700 plant mutant varieties. A large number of these varieties (including cereals, pulses, oil, root and tuber crops, and ornamentals) have been released in developing countries, resulting in enormous positive economic impacts.
During the last decade, with the unfolding of new biological fields such as genomics and functional genomics, bioinformatics, and the development of new technologies based on these sciences, there has been an increased interest in induced mutations within the scientific community. Induced mutations are now widely used for developing improved crop varieties and for the discovery of genes, controlling important traits and understanding the functions and mechanisms of actions of these genes. Progress is also being made in deciphering the biological nature of DNA damage, repair and mutagenesis. To this end, the International Symposium on Induced Mutations in Plants was organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations through the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.
The Symposium comprised an open session, two plenary sessions and ten concurrent sessions, covering topics from induced mutations in food and agriculture, plant mutagenesis, genetic diversity, biofortification, abiotic stress tolerance and adaptation to climate changes, crop quality and nutrition, seed and vegetatively propagated plants, gene discovery and functional genomics. A workshop on low phytate rice breeding was also organized. About 500 participants from 82 Member States of the IAEA and FAO, and nine international organizations/institutions attended the Symposium, with a good balance between the private and public sector, as well as developing and developed Member States. The Symposium received valuable assistance from the cooperating organizations and generous support from the private sector, for which the sponsoring organizations are most grateful.
This publication is a compilation of peer-reviewed full papers contributed by participants. They were either oral or poster presentations given in different sessions except Concurrent Session 3 (which will be compiled by the Human Health Division in a separate publication). These papers not only provide valuable information on the recent development in various fields related to induced mutations, but also on the social and economic impact of mutant varieties worldwide. Therefore, these Proceedings should be an excellent reference book for researchers, students and policy makers for understanding applications of induced mutations in crop improvement and biological research.
Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture