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Use of Markers in Plant Breeding (Advantages and Disadvantages)
Plant breeding is an essential process to improve crop yields, quality, and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. The use of molecular markers has revolutionized plant breeding and allowed breeders to identify and select desirable traits more efficiently and precisely.
Molecular markers are used to identify and track desirable genes or DNA sequences that are associated with a particular trait. The use of markers in plant breeding has several advantages and disadvantages, which are discussed in this article.
Advantages of Using Markers in Plant Breeding
A few of the advantages include -
Accelerated Breeding Cycle
The use of markers in plant breeding allows for faster identification and selection of desirable traits. Traditional breeding methods can take several years, whereas marker-assisted breeding can significantly reduce the breeding cycle.
Molecular markers allow breeders to identify and select for specific genes or DNA sequences associated with desirable traits. This precision enables breeders to select plants with the desired trait and avoid undesirable traits, resulting in improved crop yields and quality.
Increased Genetic Diversity
Molecular markers can be used to identify and track genetic diversity in plants. This information can be used to develop new varieties with improved resistance to pests and diseases.
Marker-assisted breeding is a cost-effective approach to plant breeding as it reduces the number of plants required for testing and breeding. This approach also reduces the time and resources required for field trials.
Reduction of Environmental Impacts
The use of markers in plant breeding can reduce the environmental impact of traditional breeding methods. Traditional breeding methods involve growing large numbers of plants in the field, which can result in significant environmental impacts such as soil erosion, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Disadvantages of Using Markers in Plant Breeding
Cost of Marker Development
The cost of developing molecular markers can be high. This cost includes the development of molecular probes, the cost of equipment and materials, and the cost of personnel required for marker development.
Limited Availability of Markers
The availability of molecular markers for specific crops and traits can be limited. This limitation can restrict the use of marker-assisted breeding in some crops and regions.
Limited Genetic Diversity
The use of markers in plant breeding can result in a reduction of genetic diversity. This reduction can occur if breeders focus on a small set of markers or specific traits, leading to the loss of other desirable traits.
The use of molecular markers requires technical expertise and equipment. This requirement can limit the adoption of marker-assisted breeding in some regions and among small-scale farmers.
The use of molecular markers in plant breeding raises ethical considerations, such as patenting of genetic resources and the control of seed production by large corporations.
Applications of Molecular Markers in Plant Breeding
A few of the applications of molecular markers in plant breeding are given below −
Marker-assisted selection (MAS) is a breeding technique that uses molecular markers to identify plants with desirable traits. This technique can significantly reduce the time and resources required for breeding and improve the accuracy of selecting desirable traits.
Marker-assisted backcrossing (MABC) is a technique used to transfer desirable traits from one plant variety to another. This technique involves crossing a plant with the desired trait to a plant with the desired genetic background and using molecular markers to identify and select the desired trait.
Marker-assisted introgression (MAI) is a technique used to introduce desirable traits from wild or unadopted varieties into commercial varieties. This technique involves identifying molecular markers associated with the desired trait and introgressing the trait into the commercial variety.
Marker-assisted pyramiding (MAP) is a technique used to combine multiple desirable traits into a single plant variety. This technique involves identifying molecular markers associated with each desired trait and then crossing plants with those markers to combine the traits.
Genotyping by Sequencing
Genotyping by sequencing (GBS) is a technique that uses high-throughput sequencing to identify genetic variations in plants. GBS can be used to identify molecular markers associated with desirable traits and to study genetic diversity in crops.
The use of markers in plant breeding has revolutionized the breeding process and allowed breeders to develop new varieties with improved yield, quality, and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.
The use of molecular markers has several advantages, including an accelerated breeding cycle, precision, increased genetic diversity, cost-effectiveness, and reduction of environmental impacts.
However, the use of markers also has several disadvantages, including the cost of marker development, limited availability of markers, limited genetic diversity, technical expertise, and ethical considerations.
Despite these challenges, the use of markers in plant breeding continues to be an essential tool for improving crop production and ensuring food security.
As research continues to advance, it is likely that the use of molecular markers will become even more widespread and crucial in plant breeding.
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