Molecular breeding


The aims of the unit are to :   provide background knowledge on the principles and methods employed  in the breeding of horticultural crops present the relevance of structural and functional genomics to breeding research acquaint attendees  to all aspect of molecular marker technology provide insight on the methods, results and prospects of molecular breeding provide knowledge on plant genetic modification towards novel varietal traits  


Biology, Genetics, Basic biometry  

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the unit, the students should be able to :    comprehend well the methodology of classical breeding as it applies to variety improvement design  most current types of molecular markers and interpret, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the polymorphisms revealed by their employment exploit appropriate molecular markers for the assessment  of genetic diversity  exploit appropriate molecular markers for marker-assisted breeding understand and employ DNA microarray technology both for massive analysis of polymorphisms and for large scale gene expression profiling at the whole plant genome level have a comprehensive knowledge on plant genetic engineering as employed in the production of genetically modified varieties, on the current types and spread of such varieties, as well as on their prospects in relation to public acceptance issues 


Genetic variation and plant breeding : phenotypic and genotypic changes during domestication, early selection era, empirical breeding and modern science- based breeding. Gains and losses. Germplasm sources. The gene pool concept and its exploitation Short overview of the main breeding methods in relation to reproduction  mode Overview of plant genomics. Application of co-linearity  to plant breeding. Basics of   bioinformatics Properties and uses of molecular markers : a) protein markers  (seed storage proteins, isozymes, allozymes),  b) DNA markers (hybridization-based, PCR-based, combined) Assessment of genetic variation with molecular markers : a) scoring polymorphisms  with dominant ant co-dominant markers, b) quantifying relationships (distance models, indices of geometric distances) and c) displaying relationships (clustering and ordination multivariate statistical procedures) Marker-aided breeding : accelerated gene introgression through backcrossing, gene pyramiding, parental selection for heterotic hybrids, protection of varietal proprietary rights, control of seed production quality Overview of cDNA and oligonucleotide microarray technology.  Applications and prospects of microarrays in plant breeding : a) whole genome fingerprinting and construction of structural molecular markers for MAS, b) massive expression analysis to reveal new gene functions and genetic pathways, to  obtain profile signatures and to construct functional molecular markers, to design heterotic hybrids and to allow for efficient heterologous breeding Genetically modified varieties : a) array of transgenic crops, main traits involved and geographical distribution, b)  transgenics, cis-genics and intragenics, c) controversy on potential hazards and coexistence and d) future perspectives on their use

Content Delivery

The sequence followed in teaching the unit is exactly the one presented in the above syllabus. The methodology  employed is a standard one comprised of class lectures with the aid of power point presentations, specific examples encouraging attendees to raise question to be discussed and answered in the class and providing complete studying material (in the form of book chapters and  critical scientific publications on all subjects taught)

Coursework And Assignment Details

The students are evaluated upon a  written exam at the end of the classes. The materials examined are all subjects covered in the class