Agriculture Unit

One of the most useful areas of using the nuclear energy peacefully is the agricultural research. In the unit, the researches have been conducting investigations by using nuclear and related techniques on the basic areas as:

a)      Plant breeding studies for improvement of new cultivars

b)      Studies for investigating the relationships of soil-plant-nutrient-water

c)      Studies on plant protection and pesticide resudies

The goal of the research in plant breeding is to obtain genetic variation and then select  promising plants for the following generations. Our breeding group’s works are mainly based on cereals, food legumes, oil crops, fruits, potato, tomato and fodder crops in order to solve specific problems as:

  • improved yield
  • high quality
  • abiotic stress tolerance (drought, salinity)
  • diseases resistance
  • nitrogen fixation capacity
  • mechanized harvesting

After long term breeding studies in the unit; some new mutant varieties were improved and released such as TAEK A-3 and TAEK C-10 (two soybean mutants with higher seed yield and oil content), TAEK-TUTLUER and TAEK PEŞKİRCİOĞLU (two tobacco mutants resistant to blue mold disease) and TAEK-SAGEL (one chick pea mutant with high yield and quality included resistance to anthracnose disease). In addition, one safflower mutant TAEK-USLU with high yield and oil content is under release prossesies.


In tomato breeding, we have some problems such as crossing barriers, incompatibility and limited genetic pool. Thus, in 2005, we have started a new project titled “Improvement of New Tomato Genetors by Using Nuclear Techniques. In this research, we are going to develop mutant inbreed lines as genetors which are going to show high heterosis  and resistance to disease of tomato by nuclear techniques. So we can extend the gene pool. As a result of this work, F1 hybrid parent material that will be selected from promising mutant lines, will be used as genetors for national breeding programme.

The goal of the research in soil fertility and plant nutrition is the use of isotopic (such as 15N, 13C, 32P, neutron probe) and other related techniques (such as tensionics and enviroscan) to determine correctly a) the fertilizer and water use efficiencies of plants, b) the relationships between fertilization and the environment, c) the rates of soil mineralization and immobilization and d) the fertilizer movement in the soil profile and thus finding out the management methods which will increase plant production and reduce the environmental pollution and ultimately proposing them to the researchers and farmers.

In parallel  to these objectives we have started research under rainfed and irrigated conditions of Central Anatolia (with a project titled ‘’Comparison of Soil Organic Matter Accumulations Under Various Soil Management Systems in Vetch-Wheat versus Wheat-Wheat Rotations in Central Anatolia’’ at Ankara and with a project titled ‘’Investigations of  Vetch-Potato-Wheat-Potato and Alfalfa-Alfalfa-Potato Rotations Using Vetch and Alfalfa as Green Manure under Drip Irrigation +Fertigation Systems’’at Niğde) in which 15N labelled fertilizer, neutron probe and  13C/12C  techniques are used for the nitrogen and water use efficiencies and organic matter increase determinations, respectively. By using these techniques the subjects mentioned below can be investigated and the solutions can be put out: a) nutrient uptake from the soil, b) pollution of soils and ground waters with nitrate and c) soil organic matter increase and improvement of soil structure. Using all these data will enable us to obtain higher plant yields with good quality. Beside these research works, drip irrigation+fertigation investigations are being done on other vegetables for higher good quality yields. Investigations on biological nitrogen fixation of legumes using 15N technique are continuing, too.

In the Nuclear Agriculture Unit,  plant protection and pesticide residue researches are carried out too. The investigations on inhibition of micro organisms, especially fungi, which causes spoilage in the stored fruit and vegetables after the harvest, and their mycotoxin metabolites are conducted by gamma irradiation The disease resistance experiment of mutant plant varieties are also performed in the field. The control of insect in the stored agricultural products by irradiation is possible and also sterile and killing radiation doses for stored pests can  be determined as well. Gamma radiation is also used in Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). The mechanism of resistance in the insect against to the insecticide and  the effects of insecticide can be determined by using 14C-insecticide. By performing supervised-controlled field trial with  14C-pesticide; the fate of pesticide in soil-plant system and environment  is determined; and total, extractable, bound and conjugated residues are determined as quantity and quality, with the combination chromatography. 14C-pesticide is also used as a tool in the laboratory in the QA/QC requirements which proves the reliability of residue data, such as method validation, efficiency and uncertainty of  extraction and cleanup.


Cytology Laboratory: Effects of radiation on chromosome morphology have been determined by analysis of mitosis in plant somatic cells and meiosis in pollen mother cells so radiation damage has been determined in this laboratory. Different plant seeds after irradiation have been germinated and fixed root tips are examined for mitosis analyses. Same plant material has been fixed during flowering time for meiosis analyses on pollen mother cells. In this laboratory, light microscopes and binoculars with 100-1000 extension have been used for chromosome damage analyses after irradiation.

Plant Tissue Culture Laboratory: Tissue culture techniques have been used on mutation breeding researches for shortening plant breeding period, decreasing costs and solving the genetic and biological barriers problems in this laboratory. For DH (doubled haploid) production anther culture techniques have been used for barley, immature embryo techniques for wheat and salt resistance studies have been carried out for wheat and barley in this laboratory.

Cytology Laboratory

Tissue Culture Laboratory

Mutant Gene Molecular Characterization Laboratory: In this laboratory genetic differentiation of mutant plant material have been determined by different markers systems (RFLP, AFLP, SNP, SSR and COSII) on DNA level. DNA extractions, sequence analyses (Tilling and Sequencer), restriction enzyme applications and mapping studies have been studied in newly installed laboratory.

Mutant Plant Quality Analyses Laboratory: In this laboratory, oil content analyses of mutant plant materials have been carried out by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) instruments. Either our mutant plant materials oil analyses or other institution and universities plant samples analyses have been made in this laboratory.

Molecular Characterization Laboratory

Quality Analysis Laboratory (NMR)


N-15 Laboratory: Total N and  % N-15 atom excess analysis of soil, water and plant samples are carried out in this laboratory. Keltech digestion and destilation units and NOI-7 emission spectrometer are the main equipments in this laboratory. With these equipments a) total N analysis are carried out by wet digestion, destilation and titration procedures, and b) % N-15 atom excess determinations on acidified aluquates samples by determining the N-14/N-15 ratio by NOI-7 emission spectrometer are carried out. These analysis are performed on the samples sent to our laboratory either by internal or abroad agricultural institutions after they pay the cost. Requests for such analysis can be done to the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority - Sarayköy Nuclear Research and Training Center.               

N-15 Laboratory (N-15 Analyser)

Drip irrigation + fertigation  system


Entomology Laboratory: It is the laboratory where  the works, such as the mechanism  of resistancy in the insect against the insecticides and  the effect of insecticides to the non-target organisms, are carried out by using radiotracer technique. The works, aimed to control of insect in the stored agricultural products by irradiation, is also conducted in this laboratory.  The equipments used in this laboratory are humidator, incubator, insectarium, liquid scintillation analyzer (LSC), binocular and biological oxidizer.

Phytopathology Laboratory: It is the laboratory where  the works, such as isolation and identification of fungi  which causes disease in the harvested products and their relationship with radiation, and the effect of radiation to the fungal metabolites (mycotoxin)  are performed. The works, aimed to determine the reaction of the mutant line to the plant disease, is also carried out in this laboratory. The equipments used in this laboratory are sterile cabinet, autoclave, incubator,  binocular and microscope.

Pesticide Residue Laboratory: It is the laboratory where  the works, such as determination of pesticide residues in plant and soil by using radiotracer technique and total bound extractable and conjugated residues as a quality and quantity with the combination chromatography are carried out. The works, aimed to use radioisotopes as tools  in quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA) requirements which proves the reliability of residue data, such as method validation, efficiency and uncertainty of  extraction and cleanup are also conducted in this laboratory. The equipments, such as liquid scintillation analyzer (LSC), gel permeation chromatography (GPC), biological oxidizer, gas chromatography (GC), rotary evaporator, supercritical fluid extractor (SFE), are used in this laboratory.


Semi-Automatic Gel Permeation Chromatography Liquid Scintillation Counter (LSC) Gas Chromatography (GC)

Fungal Development of P.expansum Irradiated Fungus Culture



Theoretical and practical trainings of the researchers from universities or other research institutes on “Mutation Breeding” and “N-15 analysis” are done every 3-4 years. Trainers receive certificate after the training. Also, every summer practicum for senior university students is given and they are trained theoretically and practically in these areas.


Mutation: A sudden heritable variation in a gene or in chromosome structure.

Plant Breeding: The art and science of changing plants genetically.

Variation: The occurrence of differences among individuals due to differences in their genetic composition and/or the environment in which they were raised.

Mutation Breeding: Toobtain genetic variation by induced radiation and then selection of  promising plants in population for the following generations.

Isotope: Nucleus that has the same number of protons but different number of neutrons is called  isotope.

Stable Isotope: The nucleus that  does not change by time and not give out any kind of radiation is called  stable isotopes.

Radioactive Isotope: The nucleus that does change by time and dose give out radiation is called  stable isotopes.

Natural Abundance: Quantity that is present at natural conditions.

Enrichment: Increasing the quantity by some kind of means.

Half life: Decreasing of the energy of radioactive element to its half.

Mycotoksin: It is the secondary metabolites that produced by some fungi. Some of them are more harmful than fungi. The reaction of them to the gamma radiation are vary. The reaction of them to the gamma radiation varies.

Pesticide: It is thechemical compound that used against the insect, plant disease and weeds. These can be insecticide, herbicide, and fungicide.

QA/QC: It is the recently developed quality system which proves the reliability of residue data. It can be applicable to the most discipline. Radiotracer techniques are useful tools in quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA) requirements.