Entomology, Department of


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Published in In R. Appels, R. Eastwood, E. Lagudah, P. Langridge, M. Mackay, and L. McIntyre (eds) Proc. 11th International Wheat Genetics Symposium. August 24 -29, 2008. Brisbane, Australia. Online at http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/2123/3325/1/O51.pdf


Plant breeding is a highly interdisciplinary science that requires the skills and teamwork of many scientists to be successful. In the 21st century, plant breeding will reap the benefits of the rapid advances in genomics research and understanding, as well as, advances in information and mechanical technology. The skill and success of plant breeders will be determined by their ability to use their resources efficiently, retaining those proven methodologies and augmenting them with novel approaches to meet their breeding objectives. Once the objective is determined, the plant breeder must: 1. identify and incorporate the needed genetic variability, 2. inbreed and select the useful variant, and 3. evaluate the successful variants to determine those with commercial potential. It has long been understood that plant breeders need to be ruthless with their germplasm so as to avoid wasting time and resources on lines that will never have the opportunity to be released or become useful parents. It may be that with the plethora of new tools, efficient plant breeders will have to be equally ruthless with their access to and use of technology. Though the outcomes of plant breeding are new cultivars, the importance of plant breeding remaining an experimental science will be highlighted, especially for those with the responsibility of educating the next generation of plant breeders in an increasingly privatised world. Finally, some of the great challenges facing wheat improvement that can be addressed by genetics will be discussed as we look to the future.

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