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Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences
Year: 2002  |  Volume: 5  |  Issue: 10  |  Page No.: 1135 - 1140

Molecular Markers in Plant Breeding-I: Concepts and Characterization

S. Farooq and F. Azam    

Abstract: Plant breeding is a combination of principles and methods of changing the genetic constitution of a plant to make it more suitable for human needs. Conventional plant breeding has evolved with the passage of time from simple seed saving of the best harvest to the selection of seeds according to the laws of Mendel. With the advent of morphological and biochemical markers, the selection process has hastened and the scope of conventional plant breeding increased many folds during the recent years. However, the process that actually revolutionized the plant breeding in the 20th century was the realization that there exist a widespread polymorphism in natural populations, the degree of which can be assessed by sequencing or making restriction maps: an application of new tools of molecular biology. The first and the foremost molecular markers system i.e., restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) was developed in early 1980. These are co-dominant markers and are available in unlimited number. Another breakthrough was the emergence of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 1990. With this technology, a new generation of DNA markers such as randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPDs), sequence characterized amplified regions (SCARs), sequence tagged sites (STS), single polymorphic amplification test (SPLAT), variable number of tendom repeats (VNTRs), amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP), DNA amplification fingerprinting (DFA), single strand conformational polymorphism (SSCP), single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs), micro-satellites or short tandem repeats (STRs), cDNA, DNA micro arrays and rDNA-ITS were introduced into the modern plant breeding systems. The concept of DNA based markers has increased our ability many folds, to follow minute regions of chromosome through opportunities such as map based cloning and Marker-assisted Plant (MAP) Breeding. In MAP breeding, the new ideas and concepts have been introduced which need to be understood thoroughly, before applying these ideas in practical breeding programmes particular in country like Pakistan where application of molecular biological approaches are still in its infancy. In order to achieve this objective, efforts were made to write a series of review articles in which concept of MAP breeding is being described thoroughly yet in a simple way so that student and researchers can build their understanding of plant molecular breeding and application of DNA based markers for the genetic dissection of qualitative and quantitative traits. In the present paper, concepts of MAP breeding and the type and characteristics of DNA markers is presented so that choice of the marker(s) can be made rational and for the defined purposes.

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