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Plant breeding is the science of changing the traits of plants in order to produce desired characteristics.[1] It has been used to improve the quality of nutrition in products for humans and animals.[2] The goals of plant breeding are to produce crop varieties that boast unique and superior traits for a variety of agricultural applications. The most frequently addressed traits are those related to biotic and abiotic stress tolerance, grain or biomass yield, end-use quality characteristics such as taste or the concentrations of specific biological molecules (proteins, sugars, lipids, vitamins, fibers) and ease of processing (harvesting, milling, baking, malting, blending, etc.). [3] Plant breeding can be accomplished through many different techniques ranging from simply selecting plants with desirable characteristics for propagation, to methods that make use of knowledge of genetics and chromosomes, to more complex molecular techniques (see cultigen and cultivar). Genes in a plant are what determine what type of qualitative or quantitative traits it will have. Plant breeders strive to create a specific outcome of plants and potentially new plant varieties.[2]

It is practiced worldwide by individuals such as gardeners and farmers, and by professional plant breeders employed by organizations such as government institutions, universities, crop-specific industry associations or research centers.

International development agencies believe that breeding new crops is important for ensuring food security by developing new varieties that are higher yielding, disease resistant, drought tolerant or regionally adapted to different environments and growing conditions.

Genetic modificatio

Genetic modification of plants is achieved by adding a specific gene or genes to a plant, or by knocking down a gene with RNAi, to produce a desirable phenotype. The plants resulting from adding a gene are often referred to as transgenic plants. If for genetic modification genes of the species or of a crossable plant are used under control of their native promoter, then they are called cisgenic plants. Sometimes genetic modification can produce a plant with the desired trait or traits faster than classical breeding because the majority of the plant's genome is not altered.

To genetically modify a plant, a genetic construct must be designed so that the gene to be added or removed will be expressed by the plant. To do this, a promoter to drive transcription and a termination sequence to stop transcription of the new gene, and the gene or genes of interest must be introduced to the plant. A marker for th

To genetically modify a plant, a genetic construct must be designed so that the gene to be added or removed will be expressed by the plant. To do this, a promoter to drive transcription and a termination sequence to stop transcription of the new gene, and the gene or genes of interest must be introduced to the plant. A marker for the selection of transformed plants is also included. In the laboratory, antibiotic resistance is a commonly used marker: Plants that have been successfully transformed will grow on media containing antibiotics; plants that have not been transformed will die. In some instances markers for selection are removed by backcrossing with the parent plant prior to commercial release.

The construct can be inserted in the plant genome by genetic recombination using the bacteria Agrobacterium tumefaciens or A. rhizogenes, or by direct methods like the gene gun or microinjection. Using plant viruses to insert genetic constructs into plants is also a possibility, but the technique is limited by the host range of the virus. For example, Cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) only infects cauliflower and related species. Another limitation of viral vectors is that the virus is not usually passed on to the progeny, so every plant has to be inoculated.

The majority of commercially released transgenic plants are currently limited to plants that have introduced resistance to insect pests and herbicides. Insect resistance is achieved through incorporation of a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that encodes a protein that is toxic to some insects. For example, the cotton bollworm, a common cotton pest, feeds on Bt cotton it will ingest the toxin and die. Herbicides usually work by binding to certain plant enzymes and inhibiting their action.[13] The enzymes that the herbicide inhibits are known as the herbicides target site. Herbicide resistance can be engineered into crops by expressing a version of target site protein that is not inhibited by the herbicide. This is the method used to produce glyphosate resistant ("Roundup Ready") crop plants.

Genetic modification can further increase yields by increasing stress tolerance to a given environment. Stresses such as temperature variation, are signalled to the plant via a cascade of signalling molecules which will activate a transcription factor to regulate gene expression. Overexpression of particular genes involved in cold acclimation has been shown to produce more resistance to freezing, which is one common cause of yield loss[14]

Genetic modification of plants that can produce pharmaceuticals (and industrial chemicals), sometimes called pharming, is a rather radical new area of plant breeding.[15]

Modern plant breeding, whether classical or through genetic engineering, comes with issues of concern, particularly with regard to food crops. The question of whether breeding can have a negative effect on nutritional value is central in this respect. Although relatively little direct research in this area has been done, there are scientific indications that, by favoring certain aspects of a plant's development, other aspects may be retarded. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2004, entitled Changes in USDA Food Composition Data for 43 Garden Crops, 1950 to 1999, compared nutritional analysis of vegetables done in 1950 and in 1999, and found substantial decreases in six of 13 nutrients measured, including 6% of protein and 38% of riboflavin. Reductions in calcium, phosphorus, iron and ascorbic acid were also found. The study, conducted at the Biochemical Institute, University of Texas at Austin, concluded in summary: "We suggest that any real declines are generally most easily explained by changes in cultivated varieties between 1950 and 1999, in which there may be trade-offs between yield and nutrient content."[16]

The debate surrounding genetically modified food during the 1990s peaked in 1999 in terms of media coverage and risk perception,[17] and continues today – for example, "Germany has thrown its weight behind a growing European mutiny over [17] and continues today – for example, "Germany has thrown its weight behind a growing European mutiny over genetically modified crops by banning the planting of a widely grown pest-resistant corn variety."[18] The debate encompasses the ecological impact of genetically modified plants, the safety of genetically modified food and concepts used for safety evaluation like substantial equivalence. Such concerns are not new to plant breeding. Most countries have regulatory processes in place to help ensure that new crop varieties entering the marketplace are both safe and meet farmers' needs. Examples include variety registration, seed schemes, regulatory authorizations for GM plants, etc.

Plant breeders' rights is also a major and controversial issue. Today, production of new varieties is dominated by commercial plant breeders, who seek to protect their work and collect royalties through national and international agreements based in intellectual property rights. The range of related issues is complex. In the simplest terms, critics of the increasingly restrictive regulations argue that, through a combination of technical and economic pressures, commercial breeders are reducing biodiversity and significantly constraining individuals (such as farmers) from developing and trading seed on a regional level.[19] Efforts to strengthen breeders' rights, for example, by lengthening periods of variety protection, are ongoing.[citation needed]

When new plant breeds or cultivars are bred, they must be maintained and propagated. Some plants are propagated by asexual means while others are propagated by seeds. Seed propagated cultivars require specific control over seed source and production procedures to maintain the integrity of the plant breeds results. Isolation is necessary to prevent cross contamination with related plants or the mixing of seeds after harvesting. Isolation is normally accomplished by planting distance but in certain crops, plants are enclosed in greenhouses or cages (most commonly used when producing F1 hybrids).

Critics of organic agriculture claim it is too low-yielding to be a viable alternative to conventional agriculture. However, part of that poor performance may be the result of growing poorly adapted varieties.[20][21] It is estimated that over 95% of organic agriculture is based on conventionally adapted varieties, even though the production environments found in organic vs. conventional farming systems are vastly different due to their distinctive management practices.[21] Most notably, organic farmers have fewer inputs available than conventional growers to control their production environments. Breeding varieties specifically adapted to the unique conditions of organic agriculture is critical for this sector to realize its full potential. This requires selection for traits such as:[21]

  • Water use efficiency
  • Nutrient use efficiency (particularly nitrogen and phosphorus)
  • Weed competitiveness
  • Tolerance of mechanical weed control
  • Pest/disease resistance
  • Early maturity (as a mech

    Currently, few breeding programs are directed at organic agriculture and until recently those that did address this sector have generally relied on indirect selection (i.e. selection in conventional environments for traits considered important for organic agriculture). However, because the difference between organic and conventional environments is large, a given genotype may perform very differently in each environment due to an interaction between genes and the environment (see gene-environment interaction). If this interaction is severe enough, an important trait required for the organic environment may not be revealed in the conventional environment, which can result in the selection of poorly adapted individuals.[20] To ensure the most adapted varieties are identified, advocates of organic breeding now promote the use of direct selection (i.e. selection in the target environment) for many agronomic traits.

    There are many classical and modern breeding techniques that can be utilized for crop improvement in organic agriculture despite the ban on genetically modified organisms. For instance, controlled crosses between individuals allow desirable genetic variation to be recombined and transferred to seed progeny via natural processes. genetically modified organisms. For instance, controlled crosses between individuals allow desirable genetic variation to be recombined and transferred to seed progeny via natural processes. Marker assisted selection can also be employed as a diagnostics tool to facilitate selection of progeny who possess the desired trait(s), greatly speeding up the breeding process.[22] This technique has proven particularly useful for the introgression of resistance genes into new backgrounds, as well as the efficient selection of many resistance genes pyramided into a single individual. Unfortunately, molecular markers are not currently available for many important traits, especially complex ones controlled by many genes.

    For agriculture to thrive in the future, changes must be made to address arising global issues. These issues are the lack of arable land, increasingly harsh cropping conditions and the need to maintain food security, which involves being able to provide the world population with sufficient nutrition. Crops need to be able to mature in multiple environments to allow worldwide access, which involves solving problems including drought tolerance. It has been suggested that global solutions are achievable through the process of plant breeding, with its ability to select specific genes allowing crops to perform at a level which yields the desired results.[23]

    Yield

    With an increasing population, the production of food needs

    With an increasing population, the production of food needs to increase with it. It is estimated that a 70% increase in food production is needed by 2050 in order to meet the Declaration of the World Summit on Food Security. But with the degradation of agricultural land, simply planting more crops is no longer a viable option. New varieties of plants can in some cases be developed through plant breeding that generate an increase of yield without relying on an increase in land area. An example of this can be seen in Asia, where food production per capita has increased twofold. This has been achieved through not only the use of fertilisers, but through the use of better crops that have been specifically designed for the area.[24][25]

    Nutritional value