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Types of Plant Breeding

Plant breeding is a science that deals with intermixing of plant varieties to produce new varieties having desired characteristics. In simple terms, two selective parent plants are taken to create an offspring plant with shared characteristics, the progeny is then studied to ensure the availability of desired traits.

Breeding of plants for getting desired characteristics has been in practice since the beginning of agriculture. As civilizations emerged, domestication of wild plants also started. Plant offspring that showed favourable traits were carried further and those with unfavourable characters were dropped. In this way a genetic pool evolved, and today the cultivated plants display characteristics that are very different from their wild ancestors.

Fundamentally, there are two types of breeding processes – Traditional and Modern.

Traditional Breeding of Plants

This process incorporates methodical crossing of closely or distinctly related varieties having certain desirable traits and some undesirable features to produce offspring that have more desirable traits. In this way, breeding of plants introduces new features from one of the varieties into a different genetic background. For example, offspring resulting from the cross are further crossed with high-yielding parent to ensure proper yield. Now the progeny is tested for yield and pest resistance and those with high yield and disease resistance are developed further. In case of flowers and ornamental plants, flower color, shape and size etc. are the factors that decide favorable features inherent in a plant.

Traditional breeding depends largely on homologous recombination of chromosomes to bring about genetic diversity. Traditional plant breeders may also use advanced options of in-vitro techniques viz. protoplast fusion, embryo rescue or mutagenesis to achieve diversity and produce hybrid varieties that otherwise may not exist naturally.

Traits Breeders Look for Incorporating in New Varieties

The traits that breeders look for include-

  • Better quality such as increase in nutrition, better flavor or enhanced beauty
  • High yielding capacity
  • Increased tolerance towards environmental conditions such as high temperature, salinity, draught etc)
  • Resistance against bacteria, fungi and viruses
  • Increased resistance towards insect pests
  • Enhanced tolerance towards herbicides
  • Prolonged storage for harvested crops

Modern Breeding Techniques

Latest developments have enabled scientists to have a peek inside the genetic code of plants. Now scientists can examine the DNA of seeds to find the ones that will give best results. Methods like genetic marking and genetic modification can be used to induce desirable traits into plants and develop new varieties.

It is possible that the presence of a gene can affect a desirable trait in plant. Molecular biological tools such as DNA fingerprinting and genetic markers can be used for gene mapping. Plant breeders are then able to screen large plant populations with respect to a desirable trait. This screening is based upon the presence or absence of the gene of interest as determined by laboratory methods.

Steps Involved in Plant Breeding

  • Creation of variation
  • Selection
  • Evaluation
  • Release of new variety
  • Multiplication of new variety
  • Distribution of new variety

Horticulturists implement breeding of plants to develop new varieties of plants that have desirable traits and prove more worthy to the society. Though, it is a tedious and time consuming task, the end result is very fruitful. It can be said that this technology is very important for securing our future. If you are planning for a lovely garden you can contact with the experts to get the best breeds.