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Natural genetic diversity through spontaneous mutation has been exploited for many millennia to improve major food crops. One of the most important breakthroughs in the history of genetics was the discovery that mutations can be induced by physical and chemical methods. Mutation induction, together with mutation detection has been an important tool for plant scientists as well as plant breeders for more than 90 years to increase the genetic diversity of plants and derive new varieties with improved characteristics.
The successful application of gamma rays and other physical and chemical mutagens in plant breeding over the past decade has further increased crop biodiversity and productivity across the world. The number of officially released crop mutant varieties is more than 3250, and the majority of these have been produced using radiation technologies. This clearly demonstrates the successful role of nuclear technologies for enhancing food security, especially in developing countries in the era of climate change and steady increase in world population.
Advances in in vitro plant tissue and cell culture techniques together with recent breakthroughs in high-throughput mutation detection technologies, such as whole genome sequencing, have increased the efficiency of identifying natural or induced variation that underlies key agronomic traits. These advances have helped the plant breeder to speed up the process of incorporating the desired trait into other commercial varieties using molecular marker technologies. Likewise high-throughput methods for screening induced DNA deletions have allowed directed identification of mutations in a specific gene for improved selection.
Topics to be addressed at the Symposium will attract plant scientists as well as plant breeders from all over the world. Therefore, the symposium will at once provide opportunities to present and discuss research and technology development in this field and establish linkages among scientists in order to develop knowledge-based breeding strategies.