Genetic mapping offers hope of more rapid, less expensive plant breeding

Genetic mapping aimed at improving vegetable crop production is being used in another phase of molecular-level research at Fresno State, in this case focusing on pepper plants, reported professor and molecular geneticist Jim Prince.

Plant breeders are constantly striving to improve the phenotypes of the crops for which they are responsible, Prince said. Through the use of molecular markers and genetic mapping, genes of interest can be tagged with specific markers, and those markers can be easily tracked through the stages of a breeding program. This allows for the proper selection of individuals at the seedling stage instead of waiting until plants mature and take up large amounts of time, space and money, he noted.

In this project, Prince said, regions of the pepper genome controlling germination rate, germination date, days to first flower, fruit weight, fruit length, fruit width, fruit shape, plant height and yield will be mapped at high resolution using a new approach developed by plant science researcher Allen Van Deynze at the University of California, Davis.

Fresno State student research assistants under Prince s direction will develop linkage maps highlighting desired developmental traits.

These maps could have significant benefit for commercial pepper breeders by allowing them to use marker-assisted selection for more rapid and less expensive precision plant breeding, he said.

Partial funding for this project has been provided by the California State University Agricultural Research Institute (ARI). For more information, contact Prince at jamespr@csufresno.edu.