Plant best looking plants, collect their seeds and grow

Plant
breeding is an art and science of improving genetic architecture of plants in
order to increase their value in terms of better adaptation to new agricultural
areas, greater resistance to insect pest and diseases, high yield of useable
parts, better nutritional contents of edible portions and enhanced
physiological efficiency (Ahmad et al., 1998).

Plant
breeding has been practiced since thousands of years ago. Early plant breeders
were the farmers who select the best looking plants, collect their seeds and
grow them for next season. This process of domestication had dramatically
changed the genetic habit of plants compared to their wild relatives (Bachhawat
& Ghosh, 1987). After the discovery of Mendel’s work in 1900, more advancement
have been made in the discipline of plant breeding and now this practice is
being adopted worldwide by individuals including gardener, farmers and
professional plant breeders who use the knowledge of genetics in the selection
of plants having genes for desired traits.

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Human
population is increasing with a rapid rate. In 1804, human population first
exceeded one billion and within 118 years it has doubled. After the World War
II, it has doubled from 3 billion to 6 billion and now it is estimated that within
the next 20 years, a further two billion increase will occur in human
population. To feed such a large population, there is a need to improve the
crop production by exploiting better breeding technologies. It is stated that
since now the production of cereal crops and oilseed crops has been improved by
120% and 130% respectively. Similarly more than 80% increase in vegetable
production, 43% increase in fruit production, 40% increase in pulses production
and 36% increase in roots crop production has been achieved through different
breeding practices as well as other techniques of crop husbandry within 50
years. In early ages of plant breeding when modern techniques of plant breeding
have not been developed, conventional breeding was only the tool of crop
improvement. Until the year 2000, all progress in the improvement of major farm
crops was the result of only conventional plant breeding techniques (Baldani
et al., 2001).