Plant Breeding and Biotechnology
Farmers (beginning in the Neolithic), amateur and professional plant breeders in the last several centuries, and now molecular biologists have greatly increased our ability to genetically manipulate crop plants to increase desired outputs. The two key steps in plant breeding are the creation of diversity followed by selection of resulting plants with the desired characteristics. Two important relationships determining the outcome of selection are those between plant phenotype and genotype and between heritability of a trait and the selection pressure. Similarities and differences between breeding by farmers and scientists are illustrated by the contrast between yield and yield stability; understanding of basic biological principles, their application and effects; and transgenic varieties. Participatory plant breeding is attempting to reunite farmers and scientists.
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