Plant breeding – from cross breeding to genome editing: fact sheet

plant breeding cover image

Climate change, emerging pests and scarce resources – sustainable production of sufficient food of high quality requires plant varieties to be continuously adapted to current and future production systems.

Regardless of the crop, the basic principle of plant breeding always remains the same: it is based on genetic diversity, which either arose naturally or was created by humans using various methods. The resulting plants are then characterised in detail, evaluated in the field over many years, and ultimately registered in the catalogue of varieties after being officially approved. Over the past decades, the range of methods available for plant breeding has continually been extended. Mutation breeding can be used to increase genetic diversity, and genetic engineering makes it possible to introduce genes across the species barrier. Genome editing, the latest set of tools, can be used to make directed changes at a specific position in the genome of a crop species.

Grossniklaus U, Messmer M, Peter R, Romeis J and Studer B (2020)
Plant breeding – from cross breeding to genome editing.
Swiss Academies Factsheet 15 (3)

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