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Plant breeding is being transformed by advances in genomics and computing

Date:
February 19, 2011
Source:
University of York
Summary:
Improved DNA sequencing and computing technologies allow us to track plant genetic variation at a level unimaginable five years ago. This is radically improving plant breeding and making the process vastly cheaper and quicker. It enables scientists to work with highly complex traits and makes it possible to utilize valuable genetic diversity from the wild relatives of crops. It is also revitalizing interest in working with research-neglected crops, such as those of the developing world.

The arrival of affordable, high throughput DNA sequencing, coupled with improved bioinformatics and statistical analyses is bringing about major advances in the field of molecular plant breeding. Multidisciplinary breeding programs on the world's major crop plants are able to investigate genome-wide variations in DNA sequences and link them to the inheritance of highly complex traits controlled by many genes, such as hybrid vigor.

Furthermore, there has been a step-change in speed and cost-effectiveness. What previously took six generations to achieve can now be done in two, delivering massive time and resource savings. This has made molecular plant breeding feasible on marginal crops including medicinal plants and crops of the developing world.

Agriculture faces demands to sustainably produce enough food for an expanding world population and to improve the nutritional quality of food crops, as well as to provide non-food crops, e.g. for the biofuels industry. The progress in molecular plant breeding can help meet these demands by;

  • shortening the time it takes to domesticate new crops from semi-wild plants,
  • tailoring existing crops to meet new requirements, such as nutritional enhancement or climate change,
  • rapidly incorporating valuable traits from wild relatives into established crops,
  • allowing plant breeders to work with highly complex traits, such as hybrid vigour and flowering,
  • making it feasible to work on research-neglected "orphan" crops.

These issues were discussed during the session "Plant breeding today: genomics and computing advances bring speed and precision," at the Annual Meeting of the AAAS, Washington, D.C. on February 19, 2011.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of York. "Plant breeding is being transformed by advances in genomics and computing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110219160009.htm>.
University of York. (2011, February 19). Plant breeding is being transformed by advances in genomics and computing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110219160009.htm
University of York. "Plant breeding is being transformed by advances in genomics and computing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110219160009.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

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