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The Plant Breeding Toolbox of the Future

Modern plant breeders have access to a wealth of tools that make their work easier.

Long gone are the days of mashing plants together and hoping for the best. Plant breeders now have access to numerous tools which make their breeding work more precise and effective.

Take molecular markers as an example. Molecular markers are a tool or a group of plant breeding methods that enable breeders to examine the genome and understand the intricacies of it, Beni Kaufman, director of business development at Agriplex Genomics, explains during the Jan. 18 episode of Seed Speaks. From here plant breeders can then identify the genome’s DNA sequence variation to use as the base for various breeding schemes.

“It is used to understand the genetic foundation — the blueprint if you will. It also is being used to monitor the changes that you are introducing over time,” he says.

For Ron Knox, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Swift Current, Sask, molecular markers have made his plant breeding work immensely easier.

“With the modern technologies and the number of markers that we have access to now, for somebody that’s involved in molecular genetics, it’s a little akin to a child in a candy store. It’s a wonderful thing,” Knox explains. He adds the wealth of information can be overwhelming at times though.

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