Rice Molecular Breeding Laboratories in the Genomics Era: Current Status and Future Considerations
Using DNA markers in plant breeding with marker-assisted selection (MAS) could greatly improve the precision and efficiency of selection, leading to the accelerated development of new crop varieties. The numerous examples of MAS in rice have prompted many breeding institutes to establish molecular breeding labs. The last decade has produced an enormous amount of genomics research in rice, including the identification of thousands of QTLs for agronomically important traits, the generation of large amounts of gene expression data, and cloning and characterization of new genes, including the detection of single nucleotide polymorphisms. The pinnacle of genomics research has been the completion and annotation of genome sequences for indica and japonica rice. This information—coupled with the development of new genotyping methodologies and platforms, and the development of bioinformatics databases and software tools—provides even more exciting opportunities for rice molecular breeding in the 21st century. However, the great challenge for molecular breeders is to apply genomics data in actual breeding programs. Here, we review the current status of MAS in rice, current genomics projects and promising new genotyping methodologies, and evaluate the probable impact of genomics research. We also identify critical research areas to “bridge the application gap” between QTL identification and applied breeding that need to be addressed to realize the full potential of MAS, and propose ideas and guidelines for establishing rice molecular breeding labs in the postgenome sequence era to integrate molecular breeding within the context of overall rice breeding and research programs.
International Journal of Plant Genomics (2008) Article ID 524847, 25 pages [doi:10.1155/2008/524847]