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Breeding crops by design for future agriculture

Li, C. (2020) Breeding crops by design for future agriculture. Journal of Zhejiang University-SCIENCE B, 21 (6). pp. 423-425.

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Plant breeding is both the science and art of developing elite crop cultivars by creating and reassembling desirable inherited traits for human benefit. From the bulk selection of wild plants for cultivation during early civilization to Mendelian genetics and genomics-assisted breeding in modern society, breeding methodologies have evolved over the last thousand years. In the past few decades, the “Green Revolution” through breeding of semi-dwarf wheat and rice varieties, and the use of heterosis and transgenic crops have dramatically enhanced crop productivity and helped prevent widespread famine (Hickey et al., 2019). Integration of these technologies can significantly improve breeding efficiency in the development of super crop varieties (Li et al., 2018). For example, a hybrid cotton variety CCRI63 and six related hybrid varieties account for nearly 90% of cotton production in the Yangtze River Basin (Wan et al., 2017; Wang et al., 2018). These varieties have successfully combined high yield, good quality, and biotic stress tolerance through the integration of conventional breeding, hybrid and genetically modified organism (GMO) technologies (Lu et al., 2019; Ma et al., 2019; Song et al., 2019). Unfortunately, such technology integration is not practical for most staple food crops, including rice and wheat, because of social or technical restrictions. Furthermore, plant breeding is still labor-intensive and time-consuming, and conventional breeding remains the leading approach for the release of commercial crop varieties worldwide. This is especially true for breeding cultivars and hybrids with high yield, good quality, and resistance to biotic or abiotic stresses (Liu et al., 2015; Gu et al., 2016). New germplasm, knowledge, and breeding techniques are required to breed the next generation of crop varieties.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education
Western Barley Genetics Alliance
Publisher: Zhejiang University Press
Copyright: © 2020 Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
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