Agriculture research specialists from the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) continue to improve its mutant varieties of Adlai or Job’s Tears, an alternative source of food to its better-known cousin crops such as rice and corn.

Adlai is twice as rich in protein as rice, and is known among indigenous communities throughout Asia as a source of flour, coffee, tea, wine, beer and vinegar, among other products. It has anti-tumor and other medicinal properties which can help mitigate the symptoms of allergies, and diabetes. Moreover, Adlai is also known for its resilience against extreme conditions brought about by climate change.

PNRI researchers are currently breeding mutant crops of the Ginampay variety of Adlai. The putative mutants are already in the fifth generation. After irradiating the seeds with doses of 100 to 200 gray (Gy), they are planted and grown for further observation. The Adlai crops are to be developed up to the eighth generation to complete the mutation breeding process. The experimental crops matured up to 28 days earlier than the unirradiated variety, while also being 17-24% shorter.

Using gamma radiation, PNRI has been working since 2013 to improve the agronomic traits of Adlai by making mutant varieties that yield more grain and mature earlier, while also having shorter heights to make the crops more resistant to lodging during typhoons.

Aside from developing mutant varieties, PNRI also conducted studies to improve the fertilizer, soil nutrient and water management practices for Adlai. The field experiments were done in partnership with the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) under an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) project on “Enhancing Productivity of Locally-Underused Crops Through Dissemination of Mutated Germplasm and Evaluation on Soil, Nutrient and Water Management Practices”. These improvements will also complement the Food Staples Sufficiency Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA), which encourages the diversification of staple food crops beyond rice by increasing production, ensuring market availability and lowering its prices.

Learn more about PNRI’s mutation breeding research on adlai, an alternative staple food crop, in this episode of DOSTv, featuring Senior Science Research Specialist Ms. Ana Maria Veluz of the PNRI Agriculture Research Section