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Plant Breeding the practical application of genetic principles see Genetics to the development of improved strains of agricultural and horticultural crops Plant breeders can adapt old crops to new areas and uses increase yields improve resistance to disease enhance the nutritional quality and flavor of fruits and vegetables and develop traits that are useful for storage shipping and processing of foods Improved wheat and rice varieties sparked the green revolution in the developing world during the 1960s and 70s In ornamental plants breeders have developed larger and showier flowers greater plant vigor and myriad types shapes and colors IIHISTORY Stone Age farmers improved crops through selection choosing at each harvest the largest seeds from the best plants for sowing the following year In so doing over thousands of years they converted favored wild grass and legume species into such crops as corn wheat and soybeans In the 18th and 19th centuries farmers attempted to speed up crop improvement Some advances were made partly through selection and partly through trial and error such as in the procedures used by the American horticulturist Luther Burbank Through the work of Gregor Mendel Hugo De Vries and others the development of the science of genetics at the beginning of the 20th century established a firm scientific base for plant breeding Since that time it has continued to develop in both sophistication and accomplishments enabling professional plant breeders to achieve predictable results and uniform quality Plant breeders use numerous methods to develop new varieties but their primary techniques of development are selection hybridization and the use of mutations IIISELECTION Individuals within a species vary widely in a number of characteristics Many of these traits are heritable and can be passed on to their progeny In practicing selection plant breeders choose plants with desirable traits for further propagation and discard plants that are inferior for that trait By doing so plant breeders can select and reselect for the trait through successive
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