Breeding for biotic stress tolerance in plants

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Crop Production for Agricultural Improvement, 2012, 9789400741164 pp. 145 - 200
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© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. All rights reserved. Modern agriculture is concerned with the production of crops used primarily for human and animal food, but in so doing there is often the need (in some cases by law) to protect the environment. In crop production there is also the need to lower production costs, and especially reduce the use of expensive pesticides and fertilizers. It is often an important aim, which is not always fulfilled to apply fertilizers and pesticides only when needed, but in order for this strategy to succeed, a better understanding of biotic stress and associated influences from plant breeding achievements is required. Therefore the impact of biotic stress and injury to plants and plant yield is not only of economic importance to agriculture but is directly related to other biological and environmental questions. For example, biological and economic decision made over the control of biotic stress forms an important part of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). In this chapter, we deal with the latest results and conclusions of yield losses in plant pathology, entomology and weed science, and successful application of breeding approaches to limiting such yield reductions. We intend to cover all biological classes of biotic stressors, and plant breeding methods commonly used for the diversity of organisms involved. It will focus on current knowledge of yield and fitness loss in agricultural ecosystems, and improved approaches in order that crops can better tolerate these biotic factors. Therefore in the first part of the chapter we intend to cover agricultural crops, production and limitations, conventional and molecular breeding, and where DNA-based molecular markers have been used with advantages over traditional phenotype trait selection. Molecular markers can be used to tag biotic resistance genes, and they can serve for improvement of the efficiency of selection in plant breeding, by so called marker assisted selection (MAS). The potential benefits of MAS are discussed, especially with the use of MAS to overcome some of the problems faced by classical phenotypic screening approaches in conventional plant breeding programs. In the second part of the chapter we intend to discuss biotic stress within the context of each biological class of organisms involved in crop losses, and attempt to evaluate the knowledge available in breeding and control of biotic stress damage. Abiotic stress (dealt with elsewhere in the book) will be mentioned from time to time and we certainly make a strong argument for an integrated approach to these two types of stresses in agriculture whenever possible.
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