Submitted to: Agronomy Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/29/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Plant breeding deals with the generation, manipulation, and combination of genetic variability into plant forms most useful to man. The art of plant breeding was developed long before the principles of genetics became known. Several thousand years ago, the early plant breeders intuitively looked for, successfully recovered, and skillfully propagated genetic variants or recombinants that showed desirable traits. Working under a myriad of cultural contexts, the early breeders or perhaps selectionists turned the relatively useless weedy species into crop plants that sustain us today. The advent of the principles of genetics and cytogenetics at the turn of this century catalyzed the growth of plant breeding, making it a science-based technology, which helped considerably raise the yields of major crops. The cytogenetic, cellular, and molecular tools that help manipulate the genetic information contained in the chromosomes have proved immensely useful in plant breeding. The process of plant improvement is being further revolutionized by novel biotechnological tools of gene transfer, which help engineer into plants new characters that are otherwise very difficult to introduce by conventional breeding. The worlds major crops are being transformed by direct DNA delivery by microprojectile bombardment and other methods of direct gene transfer. These exciting techniques have greatly extended the range of sources from which genetic information may be derived for improving the existing crop cultivars and for producing tailor-made plants. I strongly feel that the in vitro approaches to gene transfer will find an important place in plant breeding. They will, however, only supplement but not replace conventional plant breeding.