Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Plant Science Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #398120

Research Project: Functional Genomics for Improving Nutrients and Quality in Alfalfa and Soybean

Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Ideotype breeding and genome engineering for legume crop improvement

item Ahn, Ezekiel
item BOTKIN, JACOB - University Of Minnesota
item Curtin, Shaun
item ZSOGON, AGUSTIN - Universidade Federal De Vicosa

Submitted to: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/22/2023
Publication Date: 6/16/2023
Citation: Ahn, E.J., Botkin, J., Curtin, S.J., Zsogon, A. 2023. Ideotype breeding and genome engineering for legume crop improvement. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 82(8). Article 102961..

Interpretive Summary: Shoot and root architecture traits perform critical roles in the plant lifecycle that include the interception and capture of sunlight, structural support and water and nutrient acquisition. Identifying genes controlling these traits is a major goal of crop research so that the effects of drought and nutrient deficiency can be reduced and yield increased. The introduction of traits into elite cultivars by current plant breeding practice can be slow and laborious. The strategy described in this review uses genomics and biotechnological tools to identify and validate trait-related genes so that they can be introduced directly into elite cultivars for evaluation. Using this approach, these crops will enable agronomists to keep pace with increased consumer demand for higher quality and more nutritious food and allow for a more rapid response to emerging threats including new diseases and pests, as well as climate change-driven alterations of growing conditions.

Technical Abstract: Formidable yield gains have been achieved since the early 20th century, yet the genetic basis of higher yield potential in elite varieties of most crops species remains elusive. The reasons for this are manifold and include the multifarious nature of yield and its strong interaction with agronomic management and the environment. Ideotype breeding is a strategy whereby traits are modeled a priori and then introduced into model or crop species to assess their impact on yield. Thus, a mechanistic understanding of the connection between genotype and phenotype is required for ideotype breeding to be deployed successfully. The growing understanding of the genetic basis of yield-related traits, combined with increasingly efficient gene-editing tools, including base and prime editors and the availability of novel reagents to improve transformation efficiencies in elite, wild and un-adapted germplasm, pave the way for the widespread adoption of ideotype breeding as a complement to conventional breeding. Using legumes as a reference, we discuss how ideotype breeding could be a valuable source of novel, testable hypotheses, contribute to knowledge-based crop breeding and accelerate yield gains to ensure food security in the coming decades.