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Molecular Plant Breeding by Yunbi Xu; CABI, UK. April, 2010. 752 pp., 24.4 x 17.6 x 5 cm. 1.8 Kg. $152.00. ISBN 978-1845933920

Reviewed by A. Kamran1, 2, M. Asif1 and S. K Basu3

Guyana Journal, January 2012

The world is facing substantial problems to produce safe, healthy and affordable food, fibre and plant derived fuel. Plant breeding is the only art/science that is directly linked to feed the ever increasing population of the world and to address these challenges. In the last 2-3 decades, the plant breeding research is mainly persistent to develop or use molecular tools to improve the heredity/genetics of the plants to get more efficient and superior offsprings/ genotypes. In this connection, a book on “
Molecular Plant Breeding” by Yunbi Xu has covered almost every aspect of Plant Breeding, from classical or traditional to modern approaches. This book is an excellent source of information for scientists, researchers, agriculturists and especially students in the field of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Plant Biotechnology, Plant Genomics, Genetic Engineering and Molecular Biology. It will act as a common platform for all of them. The author included all up-to-date molecular tools, methods and technologies that are being used for the improvement of crop plants throughout the world.

The book has fifteen chapters of which the introductory chapter provides readers quick information regarding history, development and objectives of plant breeding along with basic concepts in this field. The next two chapters (Chapter 2 and Chapter 3) focus on Molecular Breeding Tools that covers Markers, Maps, Omics and Arrays. The functions, classification and properties of populations in crop breeding and genetics provide an excellent opportunity to the reader to understand genetic makeup and origin of the population (Chapter 4). The role and significance of Double Haploids (DH), Recombinant Inbred Lines (RILs) and Near Isogenic Lines (NILs) have been discussed in detail. Genetic variation among population is a prerequisite for modern and efficient plant breeding to obtain better progenies with superior traits. This is exclusively possible through plant biodiversity conservation (Chapter 5). In this chapter, the author provides lucid information to evaluate, conserve, store and propagate the germplasm to maintain genetic variability/variation. Chapters 6 and 7, Molecular dissection of complex traits: Theory and Practice, comprehensively explains QTL mapping techniques, including simple, composite and multiple interval mapping; Bayesian mapping, linkage disequilibrium and Meta QTL analysis; and statistical power issues related to sample size. The detailed procedures to separate QTLs; mapping QTL for correlated traits, across the species and genomes, either homogeneous or heterogeneous genetic background, have been outlined. Positioning the QTLs for dynamic traits related to growth and development are elaborated from a practical view point. At the end, the author describes selective genotyping in pooled DNA to map the QTLs with epistatic effects or linked QTLs. The next two chapters (8, 9), Marker assisted selection (MAS): Theory and Practices, are a rich source of knowledge around the topic covering almost all the aspects like components to practice MAS, techniques to introgress a gene identified through MAS, marker based recurrent selection, an excellent technique to pyramid genes with the help of MAS. Finally, the author also explains the complications in selecting a quantitative trait with MAS and possible effective techniques to overcome the problems. From a practical view point, in chapter 9, the author explains the selection schemes for MAS and its advantages in different scenarios; and bottlenecks during the conductance of MAS like effective marker-trait association, and provides a critical review on cost benefit ratio, and discusses the logical solutions to avoid epistasis and QTL-environment interaction effects while mapping the QTLs. In the later part of the chapter, the author depicts the most suitable traits for MAS selection, i.e, male sterility and fertility restoration, environment dependent traits like photoperiod sensitivity, biotic and abiotic stresses. The techniques to incorporate a particular gene with MAS from wild relatives and elite germplasm especially in case of cereal crops are briefly discussed. The discussion continues to elaborate the techniques to pyramid these genes and predict the potential vigour for the hybrid produced.

Chapter 10 on Genotype by Environment Interaction (GEI) provides a nice overview of the technique to grasp on how 1) the genotypes are performing in Multi Environmental Trials (METs) over the years and 2) to test whether the interaction (crossover or non crossover) exists within the specific group of genotypes. The text aims at reviewing the contemporary methods used to assess patterns of GEI, as well as reviewing actual patterns of GEI with various exemplars like Linear-bilinear models, GGE Bi-plot, mixed models, etc. A logical progression continues to the next chapter (Chapter 11), which explains the method to isolate and functionally analyse the identified gene. Both intrinsic and extrinsic gene isolation approaches are discussed along with their comparative analysis. The techniques described are based on cDNA cloning, positional cloning, and identification by mutagenesis and gene expression analysis. Chapter 12 elaborates the next step, i.e, introduction of identified and isolated gene to the target crop/species. The tissue culture, agrobacteriam mediated gene transformation, particle bombardment and electroporation techniques are briefly examined to serve the purpose. The author then fluently explains the importance and technique of expression vectors, selectable marker system together with the localization and expression of the integrated transgene. Established and the stable genes with their commercial aspect require plant variety protection (PVP) and intellectual property rights (IPR) which are discussed in chapter 13. Here the author elucidates the need and impacts of PVP and IPR and exemplifies some international agreements highlighting these rights. Plant protection strategies like patent, seed and contract laws, brand and trademarks and trade secrets are presented. The author also gives an idea how the IPR affect the molecular breeding and how molecular techniques could be used as a tool for protecting IPRs. Chapter 14, breeding informatics, is about analysing and visualizing the large quantities of data generated during the molecular breeding in a meaningful and effective way. The urge to standardize a system for collection, integration and utilization of whole lots of data in a universally accepted way is highlighted. The author argues that modern plant breeding could only be practiced now by universal sharing of scientific information. Chapter 15, decision support tools, is an excellent attempt to brush up all the techniques helping a breeder to manage the cost-benefit analysis. In this scenario, the author brought forth efficient techniques like germplasm evaluation and management, marker assisted selection methodologies and implementation, handling genotype x environment interaction especially for quantitative traits, simulation and modelling difficult traits, and smartly breeding by selecting the most efficient design.

Overall, this book is an excellent resource for all the plant breeders, researchers, scientists, graduate and undergraduate students. The book is easy to follow with a logical progression and practical examples. It is a worthwhile contribution to the collection of books, encompassing modern plant breeding from a molecular perspective. We strongly recommend this book to all scientific communities.

1AFNS, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2P5; Email
2Department of Botany, University of the Punjab, Lahore. Punjab, Pakistan. P.O Box 54590
3School of Agriculture & Life Sciences, CAAS, Lethbridge College, Lethbridge, AB, Canada T1K 1L6;