About this course
Note: This course can not be combined in an individual programme with PBR-33803 Germplasm and Seed Technology (online), because of overlap.
In contrast to PBR-22303 Plant Breeding, which deals with the central part of plant breeding (genotype and phenotype, selection methods), this course PBR-21803 deals with the 'front-end' and the 'back-end' of plant breeding. Front-end subjects treated include various aspects, often collectively indicated as 'pre-breeding'. These include the domestication of plants, the gene pool concept, and germplasm development. Domestication sometimes involves interspecific crosses, changes of the ploidy level and structural chromosomal changes. Mutagenesis is also treated, as this is a method to create genetic variation. Also, the importance of gene banks for storing and using genetic diversity present in wild material and landraces is treated. Inevitably, this includes the discussion on ownership of biodiversity and the effects of international legislation about ownership.
This relates to the most important back-end subject of the course: legislation aspects, such as breeders' rights and patents.
In addition, part of the course is dedicated to the concept of marker-assisted selection. The application of molecular markers is an important tool to make breeding programs more efficient, but markers may also be used to describe genetic diversity of plant populations and to test the identity and purity of lines. An important pre-breeding application of marker-assisted selection is the efficient selection for desired genes from wild material, while simultaneously selecting against all undesired wild genes. Often the 'pre-breeder' delivers plant material to the breeder, including the newly incorporated gene of interest, in combination with a tightly linked marker. So marker-assisted selection is an essential part of both pre-breeding and plant breeding.
Thus, the course has a mixture of technical and societal/legislative aspects, all of which are important aspects of modern plant breeding. Together with the course PBR-22303 Plant Breeding it provides a comprehensive introduction to plant breeding.
After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- explain the theory of domestication of crop species, also in relation to changes at the ploidy level and structural chromosomal changes;
- explain the gene pool concept in the context of pre-breeding;
- explain the process of pre-breeding/germplasm development;
- understand and explain the creation of novel genetic variation through mutagenesis of plants;
- explain the importance of gene banks and how they work;
- explain and discuss the principles of breeders' rights and patents;
- explain the concepts of genetic markers and how they are applied in plant breeding, especially for the quick introgression of genes from wild material;
- analyze genetic segregations, including cases where genetic linkage occurs.
Assumed knowledge is simple Mendelian genetics and plant breeding procedures, as taught in PBR22303. This course can be taken before or during the same period (4) as Pre-Breeding.