Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of the micro mineral elements and vitamins often lacking in diets based on cereals, grain legumes, and starchy roots and tubers, but void of animal products. When embarking on a breeding program to improve nutritional compounds, the way the fruit or vegetable is consumed in mixed diets must be considered. To alleviate nutritional problems, the nutrients must not only be present in the plant parts consumed, but also absorbed efficiently in the body. In some cases, it may be necessary to modify compounds to improve absorption as well as increase the concentration. Breeding to improve nutritionally related traits can be approached in a manner similar to that for other traits; i.e., identification of genetic variability, selection for enhanced levels using either individual phenotype or family mean values, and testing for field performance. In addition to improving amount and availability, avoidance of undesirable correlated responses due to genetic or physiological linkages between the trait of interest and other traits deleterious to either plant growth or the consumer is critically important during selection. The growing number of molecular marker-based linkage maps should prove especially useful for identifying genes of interest and employing marker-aided selection. When insufficient variability for amount or type of compound is present in the gene pool, strategies using transgenic plants may be useful.
The presence of arcelin protein in the seeds of common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris L., provides resistance to the Mexican bean weevil and to a lesser degree, the common bean weevil. Fast, accurate identification of single seeds containing arcelin facilitates the transfer of alleles for each of four different arcelin types through standard crossing procedures. Seed yields and other traits of near-isogenic lines that contain different alleles were comparable to the standard parent, Porrillo 70. Genotypic mixtures containing resistant and susceptible seeds produced seed yields comparable to Porrillo 70, which suggests that heterogeneous populations offer the potential for stable resistant cultivars.
People unaware of the great differences among horticultural crops often regard fruits and vegetables each as a homogeneous group when considering requirements for implementation and support of breeding programs. Each fruit and vegetable crop is different enough, and of sufficient importance, to merit individual consideration. Although the total dollar value or hectarage grown are measures of economic worth of a crop, other factors must be considered when determining the importance of horticultural crops either singularly or as a group. Generally horticultural crops require more intensive culture than field crops, and thus are grown with greater risk which is rewarded by a higher per acre value. The contributions of the horticultural crops to our daily diets are far greater than economic values indicate. The USD A task group (Senti Committee) on GRAS status of new plant cultivars pointed out that fruits and vegetables provide 90% of the Vitamin C, 50% of the Vitamin A, 30% of the B6, 25% of the magnesium, 20% of the thiamin, and 18% of the riboflavin and niacin in the United States food supply. Research support for horticultural crops must reflect, in part, their dietary importance rather than solely their dollar value.
Crop productivity is measured by the yield and quality of a commercial product used for food, feed, fiber, or fuel. Both yield and quality are complex attributes that depend on the genotype of the cultivar and vary with changes in environmental factors and production practices (Fig. 1). Crop improvement is the selection of superior genotypes with attributes that increase productivity or reduce the effects of stress factors that decrease productivity. Clear delineation of the plant characteristics that are to be modified must be included in the research objectives, if effective crop improvement is to be realized by either conventional breeding or new plant biotechnology.
Peach rootstock breeding may be accelerated by utilization of molecular markers linked to the root-knot nematode resistance locus (Mi) to screen segregating populations. A genetic linkage map was constructed using RFLP markers in an F2 population (PMP2) that is segregating for this locus. PMP2 is derived from a controlled cross of the relatively diverse peach rootstocks Harrow Blood (susceptible) and Okinawa (homozygous resistant). Bulked Segregant Analysis was applied using RAPD markers. A single small (227 base pairs) RAPD marker was found to be linked to the dominant resistant allele of Mi at a distance of 10 cM. This new marker joined the Mi locus to the RFLP linkage map and showed that two dominant RFLP markers are located between the RAPD marker and Mi. RFLPS are expensive, time-consuming and RAPD markers are unreliable, and therefore both are unsuitable for screening breeding populations. We attempted to convert the RAPD marker to a more breeder-friendly CAPS marker. The converted CAP marker was dominant. Attempts to convert the CAP marker to a co-dominant marker were not successful. The utility of the CAP marker was tested in an open pollinated F2 population derived from the F1 parent of PMP2 and in several rootstocks. The genetic linkage map was compared to other Prunus maps. The PMP2 linkage group containing the Mi locus can be related to the peach × almond linkage group which contains the phosphoglucomutase Pgm-1 locus.
Leaving an extra plant in the space adjacent to a missing plant at the time of thinning provided better compensation for missing plants within plots of bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) with respect to seed yield and percentage protein than transplanting seedlings grown from remnant seed.