Mutation breeding and functional genomics studies of mutant populations have made important contributions to plant research involving the application of radiation. The frequency and spectrum of induced mutations have long been regarded as the crucial determinants of the efficiency of the development and use of mutant populations. Systematic studies regarding the mutation frequency and spectrum, including genetic and genomic analyses, have recently resulted in considerable advances. These studies have consistently shown that the mutation frequency and spectrum are affected by diverse factors, including radiation type, linear energy transfer, and radiation dose, as well as the plant tissue type and condition. Moreover, the whole-genome sequencing of mutant individuals based on next-generation sequencing technologies has enabled the genome-wide quantification of mutation frequencies according to DNA mutation types as well as the elucidation of mutation mechanisms based on sequence characteristics. These studies will contribute to the development of a highly efficient and more controlled mutagenesis method relevant for the customized research of plants. We herein review the characteristics of radiation-induced mutations in plants, mainly focusing on recent whole-genome sequencing analyses as well as factors affecting the mutation frequency and spectrum.
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