Molecular breeding speeds development of better seeds
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, United States of America
To adequately confront rapidly changing plant pests and diseases and safeguard food security for a growing population, breeders — in collaboration with their partners — have to keep testing and applying new breeding methods to deliver resilient seed varieties at a much faster rate using minimal resources. Molecular markers are essential in this regard and are helping to accelerate genetic gains and deliver better seed to smallholders across sub-Saharan Africa in a much shorter timeframe.
Progress made so far in molecular plant breeding, genetics, genomic selection and genome editing has contributed to a deeper understanding on the role of molecular markers and greatly complemented breeding strategies. However, phenotyping remains the single most costly process in plant breeding, thus limiting options to increase the size of breeding programs.