Cereals 2012: Marker technology bringing varieties to market quicker

Growers are now beginning to see the benefits of mapping the wheat genome, with all major breeders bringing through new varieties produced by marker technology.

At Cereals 2012, Velcourt had a display to demonstrate how breeders are using marker technology to bring new varieties into the commercial environment in half the time when compared with conventional breeding.

“When an initial cross is made, conventionally you would have to grow the seedling through to an adult plant and visually select for specific traits,” said Keith Norman, technical director at Velcourt.

“With the marker assisted breeding you can test the seedling for the required traits, which subsequently means developing a commercial variety will only take around seven years when compared with the 12-15 years in conventional breeding.”

Mr Norman said that there is still much more work required to make further efficiency gains in marker techniques, speeding up the process further. “You have a deeper complexity than is currently understood, for example there is more than one resistance gene for yellow rust,” said Mr Norman.

“When we can understand how these different genes interact and why some are more effective than others, we will really see what this technology can do,” he added.


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