White paper on GCP research components: Cloned genes


A series of Position Papers have been drafted by the CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) team in collaboration with external experts. The goals are to communicate the outputs and deliverables from each research component during 2004–2014, and to explore options for enabling and ensuring that the potential benefits of these components will be fully realised in the future.

This paper focuses on the outputs and options for GCP’s cloned genes component. Outputs have been achieved through (a) collaborative work among three sets of actors: a broad network of partners in regional and country research programmes, the CGIAR and academia; and (b) through capacity enhancement to assist developing-world researchers to tap into new genetic diversity and access modern breeding tools and services.

During Phase I (2004–2008), GCP’s efforts towards gene cloning focused on aluminium tolerance in sorghum (Alt genes) and phosphorus-uptake efficiency in rice (Pup genes). Phase II (2009–2014) builds on that initial effort by conducting molecular breeding for those two traits. In addition, orthologous genes, such as the sorghum Al tolerance gene (AltSB) in maize and rice Pup1 in maize and sorghum, were identified. The gene-cloning projects, search for orthologous genes in other crops and application in breeding programmes together required an average expenditure of about 5% of a total GCP research budget of USD 150 million spread over 11 years. Aluminium (Al) toxicity and low phosphorus (P) are major factors that hamper cereal productivity in acid soils, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South America. Aluminium toxicity is a primary constraint for crop production in arable lands, affecting 38 percent of farmland in Southeast Asia, 31 percent in Latin America and 20 percent in East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and North America. After nitrogen, phosphorus is the second most important inorganic plant nutrient. It is also one of the least available nutrients because of its tendency to be immobilised in Al and iron complexes in the soil. Nearly half of rice-lands are currently P-deficient. Both Al toxicity and low P cause problems of food security throughout the world and, as abiotic constraints to crop production, are exceeded only by drought.


GCP Management Team. White paper on GCP research components: Cloned genes. Generation Challenge Programme, Mexico (2012) 11 pp.

White paper on GCP research components: Cloned genes

Published 1 January 2012