Conventional Plant Breeding Essay

1279 words - 6 pages

Conventional Plant BreedingSince the beginning of agriculture eight to ten thousand years ago, farmers have been altering the genetic makeup of the crops they grow. Early farmers selected the best looking plants and seeds and saved them to plant for the next year. The selection for features such as faster growth, higher yields, pest and disease resistance, larger seeds, or sweeter fruits has dramatically changed domesticated plant species compared to their wild relatives. Plant breeding came into being when man learned that crop plants could be artificially mated or cross pollinated to be able to improve the characters of the plant. Desirable characteristics from different parent plants ...view middle of the document...

This process called 'back-crossing' takes place over a number of generations, which usually means a number of years, until the progeny have all the desirable traits and none of the negative ones of the original two parent plants.For example, a wheat variety that produces high yields in a one region may be susceptible to a new disease. Another wheat plant may have very low yield, but has resistance to the new disease. Breeders can cross and backcross these two parent wheat varieties and their progeny with the aim of combining the high yielding qualities from that parent with the disease resistance from the other parent.Conventional plant breeding may also use 'wider crosses' that involve crossing species or even genera that are quite unrelated. These crosses cannot occur without help - so sophisticated techniques are employed.4 PROCEDURES IN CONVENTIONAL PLANT BREEDINGSelectionSelection is the most ancient and basic procedure in plant breeding. It generally involves three distinct steps. First, a large number of selections are made from the genetically variable original population. Second, progeny rows are grown from the individual plant selections for observational purposes. After obvious elimination, the selections are grown over several years to permit observations of performance under different environmental conditions for making further eliminations. Finally, the selected and inbred lines are compared to existing commercial varieties in their yielding performance and other aspects of agronomic importance.HybridizationThe most frequently employed plant breeding technique is hybridization. The aim of hybridization is to bring together desired traits found in different plant lines into one plant line via cross- pollination. The first step is to generate homozygous inbred lines. This is normally done by using self-pollinating plants where pollen from male flowers pollinates female flowers from the same plants. Once a pure line is generated, it is outcrossed, i. e. combined with another inbred line. Then the resulting progeny is selected for combination of the desired traits. If a trait from a wild relative of a crop species, e.g. resistance against a disease, is to be brought into the genome of the crop, a large quantity of undesired traits (like low yield, bad taste, low nutritional value) are transferred to the crop as well. These unfavorable traits must be removed by time-consuming back-crossing, i. e. repeated crossing with the crop parent. There are two types of hybrid plants: interspecific and intergeneric hybrids. Beyond this biological boundary, hybridization cannot be accomplished due to sexual incompatibility, which limits the possibilities of introducing desired traits into crop Plants.Heterosis is an...

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