Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Crops
From functional genomics to plant breeding and farmer's fields
The aim of our research is to contribute to the development of new varieties with improved adaptation to stressful environments.  Being
located in Tsukuba, Japan, we approach this goal through basic research on the genetic and physiological basis of stress adaptation. In collaboration with institutions in the developing world we then transfer our research findings to crop breeding and other applied sciences.


At present we focus mainly on work with rice as this is the most important food crop worldwide. It is also the crop with the best genetic/genomic resources available and can therefore serve as a model crop for other cereals such as barley, wheat or sorghum. At present we focus on abiotic stresses that limit crop yields in many parts of the world, investigating genetic and physiological causes of:
  • tolerance to phosphorus (P) deficiency
  • tolerance to drought
  • tolerance to iron toxicity
  • enhanced root development under stress
We target natural genetic variation for abiotic stress tolerance within rice germplasm in order to identify novel tolerance alleles present within genebanks, association panels or QTL mapping populations. After mapping of loci associated with tolerance, candidate genes are identified and characterized and tolerance mechanisms are investigated physiologically. At various stages findings are confirmed by field experiments to assure results have practical relevance. A successful project would conclude with the development of molecular markers and their application in the marker assisted introgression of tolerance alleles into modern varieties with high yield potential but poor adaptation to target stresses.

Matthias Wissuwa

Senior Scientist
Livestock & Environment  Division
Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences


Adjunct Professor
Department of Global Agricultural Sciences