Application of TILLING for Orphan Crop Improvement

  • Korinna Esfeld
  • Cristobal Uauy
  • Zerihun Tadele


People in developing countries mostly depend for their diet on special staple crops, so called orphan crops. These crops play a key role in food security since they are grown by many resource-poor farmers and consumed locally. Despite their huge importance in the economy and livelihood of the developing world, orphan crops have received little attention in terms of scientific improvement. Although conventional breeding is widely implemented to improve crop plants, alternative methods such as marker-assisted breeding and reverse genetics approaches have proved to be efficient in developing crop cultivars. In this review, we present detailed description of a non-transgenic and reverse genetics technique called TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesion IN Genomes). The method was originally optimized in the model plant Arabidposis thaliana and subsequently applied to crops such as maize, wheat, and rice. We also present detailed procedures for several TILLING strategies and discuss their benefits and drawbacks. The application of the technique for orphan crop improvement is also discussed based on several TILLING platforms currently carried-out on these understudied crops of the world.


Mung Bean Mutation Detection Finger Millet Mutation Breeding Bambara Groundnut 
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.



Amplified fragment length polymorphisms


Cleaved amplified polymorphic sequence


Celery juice extract


Codons optimized to detect deleterious lesions


Derived cleaved amplified polymorphic sequences


Ethyl methanesulphonate


Hydrogen fluoride


Infra-red dye


Marker-assisted breeding


Marker-assisted selection




β-N-Oxalyl-L-α, β-diaminopropanoic acid


Project aligned related sequences and evaluate SNPs


Sorting intolerant from tolerant


Single nucleotide polymorphism


Simple sequence repeats


Targeting induced local lesion IN genomes



K. E. and Z. T. express their gratitude to Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and University of Bern for supporting the Tef Improvement Project. The TILLING research in the Uauy lab is funded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) (BB/I000712/1).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Korinna Esfeld
    • 1
  • Cristobal Uauy
    • 2
    • 3
  • Zerihun Tadele
    • 1
  1. 1.Tef Improvement Project, Institute of Plant SciencesUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.John Innes Centre, Norwich Research ParkNorwichUK
  3. 3.National Institute of Agricultural BotanyCambridgeUK

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