Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: July 10, 2007
Publication Date: October 3, 2007
Citation: Jauhar, P.P. 2007. Genetic Enhancement of Polyploid Crops Using Tools of Classical Cytogenetics and Modern Biotechnology. P:41-60. In: Breeding Major Food Staples. Blackwell Publishing, Ames, Iowa. Technical Abstract: Traditional plant breeding has been mainly instrumental in the genetic improvement of crop plants. Sustained improvement of crop species has been achieved through hybridization with landraces and allied species resulting in high-yielding, superior cultivars of staple food crops. Although plant breeding was developed essentially as an art even before the laws of heredity became known, it became a sound, science-based technology only when supported by the principles of genetics and cytogenetics at the turn of the 20th century. Thus, the advent of the principles of genetics and cytogenetics accelerated the growth of plant breeding, and thereby the genetic improvement of crop plants. The process of crop improvement has been further enhanced by biotechnological tools of gene transfer, which help engineer new traits into crop plants that are otherwise very difficult to introduce by traditional breeding. The application of transgenic approaches to combat insect pests and diseases of important crops like rice, wheat, maize, potato and cotton is a noteworthy achievement. Nutritional enhancement of crops for alleviating malnutrition among the poor also constitutes an exciting accomplishment of modern biotechnology. Thus, modern biotechnology offers an efficient tool for incorporating into crop plants value-added traits that are otherwise very difficult to introduce by conventional breeding. However, the two technologies should go hand in hand for rapid and maximal improvement of crops. This article discusses the cytogenetic architecture of polyploid crop plants – both cereals and non-cereals – and highlights a multi-faceted approach to their improvement.