Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: August 10, 2005
Publication Date: December 15, 2005
Citation: Jauhar, P.P. 2005. Cytogenetic architecture of cereal crops and their manipulation to fit human needs:opportunities and challenges. (book chapter in: germplasm resources, chromosome engineering, and crop improvement. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp. 1-25. Technical Abstract: Cereal grains have been the staple human diet since prehistoric times. Their cultivation began around 10,000 B.C., ranking them as the earliest cultivated food plants. Common cereals are: wheat (bread wheat, Triticum aestivum L., and durum wheat, Triticum turgidum L.); rice (Oryza sativa L.); maize (Zea mays L. ssp. mays); oats (Avena sativa L.); barley (Hordeum vulgare L.); sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench); pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Brown = Pennisetum typhoides (Burm.) Stapf et Hubb.]; rye (Secale cereale L.); and the man-made cereal, triticale (Triticosecale Wittmack). Currently, the cereal crops are the main food source for more than two-thirds of the world population. To meet the ever-growing demand for food, genetic improvement of cereal crops cannot be overemphasized. Conventional breeding practiced over a century has resulted in cultivars with high yields and superior agronomic traits. Sustained improvement of grain yields and nutritional status of cereal crops should remain the principal goals of crop scientists and agriculturists. This article covers the improvement of important cereal crops utilizing all available tools: conventional breeding, chromosome engineering by interspecific hybridization coupled with manipulation of chromosome pairing, and use of molecular tools, including markers and genetic transformation. I have given an overview of the cytogenetic architecture of cereal crops, and discussed the attributes of their genomes, including size, gene density, and synteny with other cereal genomes. Also summarized are the major landmark studies leading to the improvement of cereal crops.