Plant Breeder / Plant Geneticist
What is Plant Breeding / Plant Genetics?
Plant breeding is the science involved with the study of genetics in botany. It involves working with plant genes in order to isolate them and then develop certain plant traits. Once a certain trait, such as plant height, fruit sweetness, or tolerance to cold is found, a plant geneticist works to improve breeding methods to ensure that future plant generations possess the desired traits.
What does a Plant Breeder / Plant Geneticist do?
Plant geneticists develop methods of making produce more nutritious, or altering plant pigments to make the food more attractive. Plant breeders utilise many techniques to change the genetics of plants in order to produce desired characteristics. The techniques range from simple selection of plants with desirable characteristics to complex molecular techniques. Classical plant breeding uses deliberate interbreeding (crossing) of closely or distantly related individuals to produce new crop varieties or lines with desirable properties. Plants are crossbred to introduce traits/genes from one variety or line into a new genetic background. For example, a mildew-resistant pea may be crossed with a high-yielding but susceptible pea, the goal of the cross being to introduce mildew resistance without losing the high-yield characteristics. Progeny from the cross would then be crossed with the high-yielding parent to ensure that the progeny were most like the high-yielding parent, (backcrossing). The progeny from that cross would then be tested for yield and mildew resistance and high-yielding resistant plants would be further developed. Plants may also be crossed with themselves to produce inbred varieties for breeding. Classical breeding relies largely on homologous recombination between chromosomes to generate genetic diversity. The classical plant breeder may also makes use of a number of in vitro techniques such as protoplast fusion, embryo rescue or mutagenesis to generate diversity and produce hybrid plants that would not exist in nature.