We focus on improving economically important but under-researched crops from developing world. Currently we do research on tef (Eragrostis tef), a major cereal crop from Ethiopia. Tef is closely related to finger millet (Eleusine coracana) that is mainly cultivated in India and Africa. The crop is particularly important because it adapts to diverse climatic and soil conditions and also tolerates many pests and diseases. In addition to its nutritional advantages, the seeds of tef are free of gluten, a substance found in wheat and other cereals for which high number of people are allergic.
We implement the high-throughput technique called TILLING for the lodging- and drought-tolerant projects. TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes) has been successfully applied to cereal crops such as maize, barley and wheat. We have established about 7000 mutagenized tef population to be used for TILLING. The method of TILLING is modified for the discovery of natural nucleotide polymorphism, for which the term EcoTILLING is given. We are utilizing 500 tef accessions in our EcoTILLING study.