Marker Techniques as Tools for Efficient Plant Breeding

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Central Research Institute for Food Crops
Today, in plant biology molecular genetics opens up an innovative spectrum even under the applied aspect of plant breeding. The most spectacular approach is surely the area of .gene transfer which at the same time is under severe and controversial discussion. One reason for this conflict is the fact that presently no convincing economic or ecological successes due to a gene transfer have been applied e.g. in food or feed production. There is still a need of more physiological knowledge as one prerequisite for useful gene transformations, Here, the lack of cloned genes may soon be overcome by improved genome analysis. Such analysis demands molecular marker techniques. These are predominantly RFLP {restriction fragment lenght polymorphism). RAPD (random amplified polymorphic DNA), AFLP (amplified fragment lenght polymorphism), and SSR (single sequence repeats or micro satellites). Such tools are not only useful for the identification of genes phenotypically difficult to characterise but also during marker assisted selection (MAS). By MAS it is possible to select in populations classically produced by combination breeding, those individuals which express desired characters even if they are very rare. Particularly for the complex quantitatively inherited traits – like e.g. aluminum tolerance of soybean - the use of such a technique will speed up the ' process to produce adapted genotypes. On the short and medium term basis marker techniques will contribute more to plant breeding than gene transfer. Like any other molecular technique it requires, however, a great deal of classical breeding work, thus molecular markers are not replacing classical approaches but are improving the breeding efficiency.
Marker techniques, plant breeding, genome