Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVED PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES FOR PASTURES AND RANGELANDS IN THE TEMPERATE SEMIARID REGIONS OF THE WESTERN U.S.

Location: Forage and Range Research

Title: Appropriate use of genetic manipulation for the development of restoration plant materials

Authors
item JONES, THOMAS
item ROBINS, JOSEPH

Submitted to: Progress in Botany
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 17, 2010
Publication Date: July 1, 2010
Citation: Jones, T.A., Robins, J.G. 2010. Appropriate use of genetic manipulation for the development of restoration plant materials. Progress in Botany. 72:249-264.

Interpretive Summary: Genetic manipulation of germplasm of native species is often criticized on the unsubstantiated grounds that it will render such germplasm to be maladapted. However, there is a crying need for native plant materials that have improved performance and possess better seed-production traits. Here four genetic-manipulation procedures (artificial selection, hybridization, bulking, and chromosome doubling) are explained. Discussion entails when commonly aired objections are likely to be valid or inconsequential, how the precautions may be taken to minimize these concerns, and how to respect, as much as possible, the principles cherished by strict proponents of natural plant materials, yet still take advantage of the benefits of genetic manipulation. When native plant-material customers are educated on the pro-and-con arguments for genetic manipulation, they will be in a better position to choose plant materials that will maximize the chances for on-the-ground success within project budgets.

Technical Abstract: The diversity of restoration plant material development approaches reflect a variety of philosophies that represent what should and can be accomplished by restoration. The "natural" approach emphasizes emulation of putative naturally occurring patterns of genetic variation. The "genetically manipulated" approach involves such techniques as artificial selection, hybridization, bulking, and chromosome doubling to create populations that are ostensibly as well or better equipped to restore ecosystem function than the extirpated natural populations they are designed to replace. A number of caveats have been issued regarding manipulated plant materials, including concerns regarding improper genetic identity, outbreeding depression, maladaptation, and inappropriate amounts of genetic variation. Here I detail 1) when these concerns are likely to be valid or inconsequential, 2) how the precautions may be taken to minimize these concerns, and 3) how to respect, as much as possible, the principles cherished by strict proponents of natural plant materials, yet still take advantage of the benefits of genetic manipulation.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page