TILLING for Mutations in Model Plants and Crops

  • Zerihun Tadele
  • Chikelu MBA
  • Bradley J. TillEmail author


A growing world population, changing climate and limiting fossil fuels will provide new pressures on human production of food, medicine, fuels and feed stock in the twenty-first century. Enhanced crop production promises to ameliorate these pressures. Crops can be bred for increased yields of calories, starch, nutrients, natural medicinal compounds, and other important products. Enhanced resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses can be introduced, toxins removed, and industrial qualities such as fibre strength and biofuel per mass can be increased. Induced and natural mutations provide a powerful method for the generation of heritable enhanced traits. While mainly exploited in forward, phenotype driven, approaches, the rapid accumulation of plant genomic sequence information and hypotheses regarding gene function allows the use of mutations in reverse genetic approaches to identify lesions in specific target genes. Such gene-driven approaches promise to speed up the process of creating novel phenotypes, and can enable the generation of phenotypes unobtainable by traditional forward methods. TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genome) is a high-throughput and low cost reverse genetic method for the discovery of induced mutations. The method has been modified for the identification of natural nucleotide polymorphisms, a process called Ecotilling. The methods are general and have been applied to many species, including a variety of different crops. In this chapter the current status of the TILLING and Ecotilling methods and provide an overview of progress in applying these methods to different plant species, with a focus on work related to food production for developing nations.


Background Mutation Missense Change Tilling Population Mutation Discovery Traditional Sanger Sequencing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



ZT is grateful to Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and University of Bern for financial support to the Tef Biotechnology Project. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency through their Joint FAO/IAEA Programme of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture provide generous support for induced crop mutagenesis activities; this makes the work of BT and CM possible at the Agency’s laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Plant Sciences, University of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Plant Breeding Unit, FAO/IAEA Agricultural and Biotechnology LaboratorySeibersdorfAustria

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