Plant breeding is a branch of agriculture based on principles of genetics and cytogenetic that focuses on improving the genetic makeup of the crop plants for use by society. This branch is an essential pre-requisite in the field of plant biotechnology which can be used to identify and select desirable traits in plants and further create new varieties with a set of desired characteristics. Plant breeding is a coevolutionary process thus increasing the plant value and utility for human welfare and is crucial for increasing the production of crops to overcome the problem of food insecurity. It fulfills the following interests-
- Increase tolerance to environmental conditions
- Develop resistance to insecticides
- Increase tolerance to the insect pest
- Improve quality
- Increase yield
Plant breeding can be categorized further into three methods on the basis of observed variants by the selection of plants, expanded variation by controlled mating, and monitored recombination by the selection of specific genes or marker profiles. There are some steps involved in plant breeding including the creation of genetic variation (domestication and germplasm collection), evaluation and selection of parents, hybridization, superior recombinants selection, and testing, and finally release of hybrids. The collection of variability involves germplasm collection, an entire collection of all the diverse alleles for all the genes in a crop that can be conserved by in situ and ex situ conservation. Pure lines, plants with desirable characteristics are selected and multiplied through the process of hybridization. The step for selecting and evaluating parents is critical for the success of this process and requires careful scientific evaluation of the progeny. Plants with desirable characteristics undergo self-pollination for several generations in order to achieve uniformity. These hybrids are then grown in research fields and their performance is recorded in ideal conditions. Wheat, rice, sugarcane, and millets are some of the Indian hybrid crops grown through this process. Through mutation breeding, resistance can be developed in the plants by some physical and chemical agents and further developed plants can be multiplied through breeding experiments. Chlorina was first developed in 1934 through mutation breeding. Conventional breeding techniques have some limitations associated such as loss of fitness, time-consuming, and genetic diversity. Genetic engineering in plants can introduce one or more genes of desirable characteristics. Co-cultivation, electroporation, and microinjection are some of the methods for genetic transformation. But transgenic crops have some severe environmental effects. Therefore, in order to meet the increasing demands of consumers, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) technology is gaining tremendous attention globally for revolutionizing plant breeding through which multiple targets can be modified simultaneously in a simple and effective way. The CRISPR system is a sophisticated adaptive immune mechanism divided into three stages in response to invading foreign DNA which was firstly discovered in the genome of Escherichia coli. CRISPR technology opens exciting new opportunities to generate genetic diversity and can accelerate the breeding process enormously.
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