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The best strategy to improve efficiency and reduce costs in developing a new variety is to breed with precision. Molecular technique which helps breeding more precise and efficient has become an important tool for the development of plant disease-resistant varieties. Twenty sets of highly specific molecular markers were developed by the Taiwan Seed Improvement and Propagation Station, COA (TSIPS) for the major diseases of tomato, resulting in shortening 2-3 selection generations and enhancing the breeding efficiency.
Crop breeding needs to invest a lot of manpower, land and resources. The traditional breeding is to select the target traits through field observation. During the selection, it is often interfered by climate, pests and diseases, and it takes time and effort. On the contrary, molecular- assisted breeding provides an alternative way to speed the selection process. It is conducted by biotechnology researchers to develop molecular markers according to the genetic information on specific traits. It then provides an aid to breeders to detect the presence or absence of target genes in the segregating progeny following a cross. Only a small amount of plant materials is needed for genotyping screening in the molecular detection regardless of external factor such as the plant growing conditions, growth stages, weather, etc. In addition to detecting the presence or absence of the target genes, it can also accurately detect resistance gene in homogenous or heterogeneous; for breeders, having molecular tools is just like arming with a powerful weapon.
Tomatoes are second only to potatoes as the world's most cultivated vegetable crops. It is also a major vegetable seed for export in Taiwan, with an annual export value of 36.6 million NT dollars. In order to assist the industry to rapidly develop disease-resistant varieties in highly competitive market, TSIPS has developed 7 sets of resistance gene markers for viral diseases, 4 sets for leaf diseases (Figure 1) and 9 sets for soil- borne diseases (Figure 2) and those markers have transferred to the seed companies. In addition, considering the needs of companies which have not yet set up a laboratory or equipments, TSIPS has planned a molecular-assisted breeding collaboration model to provide charged testing services or customized collaborations. With this accurately molecular tool, we wish to help seed industry to save costs and time for breeding a new variety and to be more competitive in the market.
▲Figure 1. TSIPS has developed a highly specific markers for the viral disease (left) and leaf disease (right) resistance genes in tomato.
▲Figure 2. TSIPS has developed a highly specific markers for soil-borne diseases resistance genes in tomato.