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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Improving Lives: 50 Years of Crop Breeding, Genetics and Cytology (C-1)

Authors
item Baenziger, P. - UNIV. OF NE, LINCOLN
item Russell, W. - UNIV. OF NE, LINCOLN
item Graef, G. - UNIV. OF NE, LINCOLN
item Campbell, Benjamin

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 21, 2005
Publication Date: September 10, 2006
Citation: Baenziger, P.S., Russell, W.K., Graef, G.L., Campbell, B.T. 2006. Improving lives: 50 years of crop breeding, genetics and cytology. Crop Science. 46:2230-2244.

Interpretive Summary: In the past 50 years, we have witnessed both the Green Revolution and a revolution in science. The Green Revolution coupled semi-dwarfing traits with cultural practices that led to high yielding production systems that literally feed the world. Continued progress for productivity is found in virtually all crops, though the question of where is the upper genetic limit has become more poignant as population continues to grow and prosper. The recent scientific revolution began with the discovery of the chemical nature of DNA in 1953. Understanding DNA led to gene isolation, cloning, and eventually transgenic crop plants, as well as the refinement of quantitative genetics and the robust use of molecular markers. The impact of this research has changed the question from “Can we feed the world?” as a scientific question to “Will we feed the world?” as a question of humanity.

Technical Abstract: In the past 50 years, we have witnessed both the Green Revolution and a revolution in science. The Green Revolution coupled semi-dwarfing traits with cultural practices that led to high yielding production systems that literally feed the world. Continued progress for productivity is found in virtually all crops, though the question of where is the upper genetic limit has become more poignant as population continues to grow and prosper. The recent scientific revolution began with the discovery of the chemical nature of DNA. Understanding DNA led to gene isolation, cloning, and eventually transgenic crop plants, as well as the refinement of quantitative genetics and the robust use of molecular markers. Cytogenetics continues to elucidate the physical structure of chromosomes, aid trait and molecular mapping, and create new genetic variability from wild relatives. In many crops, every modern cultivar has a trait(s) derived from wild relatives or alien species. Single seed descent plant breeding methods were popularized and evolved to doubled haploid breeding where technology was developed. Cytoplasmic male sterility has brought hybrid technology to many crops, but due to diseases has also been lost in some. The impact of this research has changed the question from “Can we feed the world?” as a scientific question to “Will we feed the world?” as a question of humanity.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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