plant breeding

plant breeding, science of altering the genetic pattern of plants in order to increase their value. Increased crop yield is the primary aim of most plant-breeding programs; advantages of the hybrids and new varieties developed include adaptation to new agricultural areas, greater resistance to disease and insects, greater yield of useful parts, better nutritional content of edible parts, and greater physiological efficiency. Other goals are adaptation of crops to modern production techniques such as mechanical harvesting and improvement in the market quality of the product.

Traditionally, plant breeders have made genetic changes in crops by using various crossing and selection methods, creating desirable hybrids; breeders also now attempt to induce favorable genetic mutations by the use of ultraviolet light, gamma radiation, or chemicals. With the development of genetic engineering, plant breeders have increasingly used its techniques to introduce desirable traits (i.e., genes), often from other species, into cultivated plants.

See also breeding.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on plant breeding from Fact Monster:

  • mutation: Bibliography - Bibliography See W. Gottschalk and G. Wolff, Induced Mutations in Plant Breeding (1983); G. Obe, ...
  • Mymensingh - Mymensingh Mymensingh , town (1991 pop. 188,713), N central Bangladesh, on an old channel of the ...
  • propagation of plants - propagation of plants propagation of plants is effected in nature chiefly sexually by the seed and ...
  • Hugo de Vries - de Vries, Hugo de Vries, Hugo , 1848–1935, Dutch botanist. He opened a new approach to the ...
  • fruit - fruit fruit, matured ovary of the pistil of a flower, containing the seed. After the egg nucleus, ...

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Agriculture: General