Genomics-Assisted Crop Improvement: An Overview

  • Rajeev K. Varshney
  • Roberto Tuberosa

Abstract

In recent years, a truly impressive number of advances in genetics and genomics have greatly enhanced our understanding of structural and functional aspects of plant genomes but at the same time have challenged us with many compelling avenues of investigation. The complete genome sequences of Arabidopsis, rice, sorghum and poplar as well as an enormous number of plant expressed sequence tags (ESTs) have become available. In the next few years, the entire genomes or at least gene space will likely be sequenced for most major crops. However, improved varieties, not sequences per se, contribute to improved economic return to the farmer. Functional genomics and systems biology research are facilitating the identification of gene networks that are involved in controlling genetic variation for agronomically valuable traits in elite breeding populations. Furthermore, combining the new knowledge from genomic research with conventional breeding methods is essential for enhancing response to selection, hence crop improvement. Superior varieties can result from the discovery of novel genetic variation, improved selection techniques, and/or the identification of genotypes with improved attributes due to superior combinations of alleles at multiple loci assembled through marker-assisted selection. Although it is clear that genomics research has great potential to revolutionize the discipline of plant breeding, high costs invested in/associated with genomics research currently limit the implementation of genomics-assisted crop improvement, especially for inbreeding and/or minor crops. A critical assessment of the status and availability of genomic resources and genomics research in model and crop plants, and devising the strategies and approaches for effectively exploiting genomics research for crop improvement have been presented in two volumes of the book. while Volume 1, entitled “Genomics approaches and platforms”, compiles chapters providing readers with an overview of the available genomics tools, approaches and platforms, Volume 2, entitled “Genomics applications in crop improvement”, presents a timely and critical overview on applications of genomics in crop improvement. An overview on the highlights of the chapters of these two volumes has been presented in the present introductory chapter.

Keywords

Sucrose Starch Maize Stein Pyramid 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rajeev K. Varshney
    • 1
  • Roberto Tuberosa
    • 2
  1. 1.International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropic Crops (ICRISAT)Patancheru-502324India
  2. 2.Department of Agroenvironmental Sciences and TechnologyUniversity of BolognaViale Fanin 44Italy

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