Location: Dairy Forage ResearchTitle: But we want it now: Gene discovery and utilization in alfalfa breeding
Submitted to: Progressive Forage Grower
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2020
Publication Date: 3/1/2020
Citation: Riday, H. 2020. But we want it now: Gene discovery and utilization in alfalfa breeding. Progressive Forage Grower. Mar 1 2020 pg 34-35.
Interpretive Summary: Most breeding work to develop new alfalfa varieties is based on the use of readily observed plant characteristics to identify desirable parents to interbreed to form new varieties. However, with alfalfa DNA-based gene discovery research in its third decade of development, alfalfa breeders are getting closer to using this technology for variety development. The main barriers to more fully utilizing genes discovered in alfalfa breeding include the evaluation cost to determining a plant’s genic state or "genotyping" cost for large numbers of plants in order to determine desirable plants based on superior gene combinations at multiple genome locations. The genotyping needs to be cost competitive with traditional field-based evaluation techniques to entice alfalfa breeders to shift resources from field-based evaluation to genotyping. To tackle this challenge Agricultural Research Service (the in-house research arm of USDA) has initiated the alfalfa "Breeding Insights Platform" project, which aims to develop cost-effective techniques for genotyping large numbers of plants in alfalfa breeding programs. This project brings together all USDA-ARS' alfalfa researchers to not only develop a cost- effective genotyping platform but to also research methodologies to implement genotyping effectively into alfalfa breeding programs.
Technical Abstract: Most alfalfa breeding still relies on traditional breeding methods where breeders select superior plants under field conditions or in specialized greenhouse selection tests. However, with alfalfa DNA-based gene discovery research in its third decade, alfalfa breeders are now getting closer to using this technology during variety development. The main barriers to more fully utilizing genes discovered in alfalfa breeding include the genic state or “genotyping” evaluation cost for large numbers of plants in order to determine the best plants based on superior gene combinations at multiple genome locations. Furthermore, even if sufficient genic locations are evaluated the overall evaluation cost needs to be cost competitive with traditional field based evaluation techniques. To tackle this challenge USDA Agricultural Research Service, the in-house research arm of USDA, has initiated the alfalfa “Breeding Insights Platform” project. This project brings together all USDA-ARS’ alfalfa researchers to work together to develop a cost-effective genotyping platform and to research how to effectively implement such a tool.