Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Agriculture and Food Systems
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: September 11, 2013
Publication Date: August 6, 2014
Citation: Holland, J.B. 2014. Breeding Plants: Modern. In: Neal Van Alfen, editor-in-chief. Encyclopedia of Agriculture and Food Systems, Vol. 2, San Diego: Elsevier; 2014. pp p. 187-200. Interpretive Summary: This paper will serve as an encyclopedia chapter discussing the historical development of modern plant breeding methods and the latest applications of genomics to crop improvement.
Technical Abstract: Historically, plant breeding has progressed from the initial domestication of crops to highly intensive and effective cultivar improvement methods that integrate genomic information with phenotypic evaluations of breeding populations. Plant breeders employ a wide variety of breeding methods, the choice of which is largely driven by the mating system of the species, and the type of cultivar that can be disseminated easily to farmers. A high level classification of cultivar types is based on the level of genetic uniformity among plants within a cultivar and on the level of genetic uniformity between homologous chromosomes within a plant. Recent improvements in breeding methods that can be applied across these diverse cultivar types and breeding methods (with varying levels of success and efficiency) include statistical models that are capable of summarizing extensive phenotypic evaluation records, pedigree information, and estimates of overall genetic similarities among the lines and families within a breeding program. DNA markers, sequences, and other genomic information can also be applied to improve responses to selection under certain circumstances.