Dr. Till who has created the first TILLING service delivers Distinguished talk at UoH

All of today’s crop plants that we eat such as wheat and rice have been selected for last 10,000 years for natural variations (mutations) for improved yield and disease resistance. Modern tools of genomics have now enabled development of high-throughput and low-cost methods for the discovery of natural and induced mutations for improving plant yield, said Dr. Bradley J. Till while delivering a Distinguished talk on Mutation induction and discovery in seed and vegetatively propagated crops at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) today (22 April 2015).


Speaking to the students, faculty and staff in the School of Life Sciences, Dr. Till who is currently at IAEA, Vienna states that in last fifteen years TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes) has emerged as the primary mutation discovery platform for the crop improvement. Dr. Till has applied above method even for vegetatively propagated triploid banana crop for benefits of farmers in the developing countries. His work has provided foundation for other vegetatively propagated crops that are important in agriculture such as cassava.

Dr. Till has also discovered natural mutations in banana and cassava for generating novel crop traits. His tools have been also applied to Jatropha curcas which is a potential source of plant derived oil for automobiles. He also highlighted how the International Atomic Energy Agency is contributing to low-income farmers in Asia and Africa by improving the locally grown crops.


Dr. Till received a PhD from the University of Oregon in 2000 for his work on maize chloroplast biogenesis and the development of a reverse-genetic strategy employing Mutator transposon mutagenesis. From 2000-2002 he was a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Steven Henikoff at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Here, he co-developed the high-throughput reverse genetics strategy known as TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes) and created the first TILLING service for the model plant Arabidiopsis thaliana. From 2002-2007 Dr. Till was leader of a dedicated TILLING facility known as the Seattle TILLING Project. During this time he helped establish TILLING in a range of species including maize, rice, soybean, chickpea and Drosophila.

He is currently leader of the Genomics and Reverse-Genetics Group of the laboratory in IAEA. He has established the first next generation sequencing facility for the IAEA laboratories. His current work includes the development of reduced-representation genome strategies, including restriction-phased libraries and exome capture, for a broad range of crops important for food security. He has authored of over 30 publications, including book chapters, peer-reviewed methods, and basic research articles on mutation discovery in plants.