Plant Breeding Innovation in my Backyard

  • On March 13, 2019

By Stephanie Karhoff, Ph.D. Candidate in Translation Plant Sciences at The Ohio State University

I held plant breeding innovation in my hand this week. No, I was not in the lab or greenhouse, but in my own backyard. I was doing my favorite spring task – planting the garden.

Each seed represents years of hard work to develop desirable varieties – bell peppers resistant to bacterial wilt, tomatoes perfect for slicing, sweet corn tolerant to glyphosate herbicide. These were all made possible by innovations in plant breeding.

Today’s plant breeders still have the same goal to improve plants for human benefit. However, breeders now have more resources and methods than ever before. Sequenced plant genomes allow for more perfect genetic markers and a greater understanding of gene function. Gene editing tools allow for better utilization of the crop’s or its wild relatives’ diversity. These innovations lead to the same endpoint as conventional methods, but often in a more efficient manner.

All breeding tools and techniques are necessary to provide us with a bountiful harvest. (Which will hopefully mean plenty of delicious treats from the garden this year. . .if I can win the ongoing battle with weeds!) Learn more about plant breeding innovation here.

Stephanie’s post first appeared on The Ohio State University’s Translational Plant Sciences Graduate Program blog on June 2, 2017.