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Title: Plant breeding and genetics

item BAENZIGER, P - University Of Nebraska
item MUMM, RITA - University Of Illinois
item BERNARDO, REX - University Of Minnesota
item BRUMMER, E - University Of California
item LANGRIDGE, PETER - University Of Adelaide
item Simon, Philipp
item SMITH, STEPHEN - Iowa State University

Submitted to: Council for Agricultural Science and Technology Issue Paper
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/9/2017
Publication Date: 3/29/2017
Citation: Baenziger, P.S., Mumm, R., Bernardo, R., Brummer, E.C., Langridge, P., Simon, P., Smith, S. 2017. Plant breeding and genetics. Council for Agricultural Science and Technology Issue Paper. Issue Paper 57.

Interpretive Summary: The art and science of plant breeding is directed to one of humanity’s greatest challenges: the need to feed, clothe, and nourish a growing world population in the face of climate extremes, decreased water availability, demands for renewable energy, and the imperative for environmental stewardship. Innovation is critically important to continued progress in providing food and nutritional security to humankind in the decades ahead. There is urgency to plant breeding and the need for innovation because our increasing population and increasing prosperity will require genetic improvements in our crops at twice the current rate of improvement globally. The ultimate goal of plant breeding is to develop improved crops. Improvements can be made in crop productivity, crop processing and marketing, and/or consumer quality. Past success in devising innovative plant breeding solutions to develop improved crop cultivars to nourish, fuel, and beautify the world while mitigating climate change and enhancing the environment has been impressive. Success to date should provide the motivation and confidence to sustain and intensify efforts in the decades ahead to eliminate human hunger and malnutrition while preserving our environment. The scale of innovations that needs to be made and broadly implemented globally within the next few decades in the many and diverse crops that sustain humanity reinforces the urgency and call to action for innovation in plant breeding if a global population of more than 9 billion by 2050 is to be fed and nourished.

Technical Abstract: The ultimate goal of plant breeding is to develop improved crops. Improvements can be made in crop productivity, crop processing and marketing, and/or consumer quality. The process of developing an improved cultivar begins with intercrossing lines with high performance for the traits of interest, then evaluating and selecting outstanding progeny that demonstrate superior performance, and finally, confirming performance stability across the potential market region. Given the goals and steps in the plant breeding process, innovation provides the means to achieve greater gains, increase efficiency, and accelerate time-to-market for improved cultivars. The innovation can come in the form of new genetic technologies that may involve creation or assembly of genetic diversity, production of the progeny to be evaluated, structures and schemes to facilitate selection of superior genotypes, and even systems to enable delivery of superior performance to farmers. Given the focus and investment devoted to technological innovation in crop improvement, it is vital that maximal value is derived; this often means fitting improved cultivars and the process to create them with other features of the agricultural production system and the value chain. Integration with farmer-implemented agronomic practices; delivery options for crop protection; and machinery used for planting, harvest, and postharvest storage are important to realizing the full genetic potential of improved cultivars and deriving maximal value and impact from innovation. Likewise, further innovation in production systems and value chains will sustain and leverage genetic advancements.