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Evolutionary Plant Breeding in Cereals—Into a New Era
The Organic Research Centre, Hamstead Marshall, Newbury, Berkshire RG20 0HR, UK
Institute of Plant Breeding, Seed Science and Population Genetics, University of Hohenheim, Fruwirthstraße 21, Stuttgart 70599, Germany
Department of Genetic Resources and Organic Plant Breeding, Brunszvik u. 2, Martonvásár 2462, Hungary
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Washington State University, 291D Johnson Hall, Pullman, WA 99164, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 August 2011; in revised form: 30 September 2011 / Accepted: 9 October 2011 / Published: 17 October 2011
Abstract: In evolutionary plant breeding, crop populations with a high level of genetic diversity are subjected to the forces of natural selection. In a cycle of sowing and re-sowing seed from the plant population year after year, those plants favored under prevailing growing conditions are expected to contribute more seed to the next generation than plants with lower fitness. Thus, evolving crop populations have the capability of adapting to the conditions under which they are grown. Here we review the current state of research in evolutionary plant breeding and concentrate on the ability of evolving plant populations to deal with stressful, variable, and unpredictable environments. This resilience of evolving plant populations is seen as a major advantage under the predicted threats faced by agriculture such as global climate change. We have conducted an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of this breeding approach and suggest how its concept can be broadened and expanded. Given the current legal restrictions for realizing the potential of evolutionary plant breeding, we call for a change in legislation to allow evolving crop populations to enter agricultural practice on a larger scale.
Keywords: composite cross populations; competition; diversity; farm-saved seed; resilience
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Cite This Article
MDPI and ACS Style
Döring, T.F.; Knapp, S.; Kovacs, G.; Murphy, K.; Wolfe, M.S. Evolutionary Plant Breeding in Cereals—Into a New Era. Sustainability 2011, 3, 1944-1971.
Döring TF, Knapp S, Kovacs G, Murphy K, Wolfe MS. Evolutionary Plant Breeding in Cereals—Into a New Era. Sustainability. 2011; 3(10):1944-1971.
Döring, Thomas F.; Knapp, Samuel; Kovacs, Geza; Murphy, Kevin; Wolfe, Martin S. 2011. "Evolutionary Plant Breeding in Cereals—Into a New Era." Sustainability 3, no. 10: 1944-1971.