Riley, Ralph Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Constabel, Fred Plant Biotechnology Institute, National Research Council, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Last reviewed:May 2020
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- Scientific method
- Self-pollinating species
- Cross-pollinating species
- Asexually propagated crops
- Special techniques
- Cell technologies
- Somatic hybridization
- DNA technologies
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The application of genetic principles to the improvement of cultivated plants. The science of plant breeding involves the controlled mating and selection of plants, often utilizing hybridization and genetic engineering techniques, to modify plant species with respect to one or more phenotypic traits (Fig. 1). Overall, the aims of plant breeding seek to produce new and improved types of farm crops or decorative plants, thereby better serving the needs of the farmer, the processor, and the ultimate consumer. New varieties of cultivated plants can result only from genetic reorganization that gives rise to improvements over the existing varieties in particular characteristics or in combinations of characteristics. In consequence, plant breeding can be regarded as a branch of applied genetics, but it also makes use of the knowledge and techniques of many aspects of plant science, especially physiology and pathology. Related disciplines, like biochemistry and entomology, are also important, and the application of mathematical statistics in the design and analysis of experiments is essential. See also: Agricultural science (plant); Genetic engineering; Genetics; Plant pathology; Plant physiology
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