READING LIST

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Plant Improvement for Organic Agriculture

1. Evolutionary Theory and the Origins of Agriculture
Plant Breeding has been called "accelerated evolution" by some geneticists.
The genetic selection of crop plants practiced by the best seed growers and
plant breeders is really just an extension of Darwin,s theory of Natural
Selection or the Survival of the Fittest. Some of the most important lessons
learned from evolution in the realm of plant improvement are covered in
these readings.

Readings:
Principles of Plant Breeding. 2nd Ed. 1999. R.W. Allard. John Wiley and
Sons. Chapts. 3 & 9. Some of the most important lessons learned from
evolution that relate to plant improvement are covered in these readings.

2. Genetics Review
In order to fully benefit from many of the concepts presented in this class
it is important to have a working knowledge of basic genetic principles.
These principles include the nature of inheritance, Mendel,s Laws, and
dominant traits vs. resistant traits. In class we will also cover meiosis
vs. mitosis, transposable elements and the consequences of recombination.

Readings:
An Introduction to Genetic Analysis. 4th Ed. 1989. Suzuki, Griffiths,
Miller, and Lewontin. W.H. Freeman and Co. Chapt. 2. This text has the
best modern treatment of the basics of Mendelian genetics. For those who
have had college genetics this is a review and for others it will be a
challenge, regardless, please read this only for the basic concepts without
concentrating unnecessarily on details and nomenclature.

3. Reproductive Biology Basics
Also important as a prerequisite to this class is an understanding of
several concepts associated with the reproductive biology of flowering
plants. The areas of review include mode of reproduction (sexual vs.
asexual), self-pollinated vs. cross-pollinated species, and annual vs.
biennial life cycles. While many basic biology texts cover these topics it
is advisable to read the following chapters that present these topics from a
plant breeder,s perspective. Please review carefully the differences between
inbreeding and out-crossing species, as this is one of the most important
distinctions that we,ll make during our discussions.

Readings:
Methods of Plant Breeding. 1942. Hayes and Immer. McGraw-Hill Book Co.
Chapt. 3. This was once the standard plant breeding text and their treatment
of Mode of Reproduction in Relation to Breeding Method has yet to be
matched.

Principles of Plant Breeding. 2nd Ed. 1999. R.W. Allard. John Wiley and
Sons. Chapt. 4. This chapter offers a great treatment on the basics of
reproductive biology that you,ll need to understand when maintaining
populations of plants.

4. Plant Populations
To choose the most appropriate breeding system to use in both maintaining
and improving a crop species it is important to recognize how genetic
variation within a population is acted upon by environment, artificial
selection, and the structure of the population.

Readings:
Principles of Plant Breeding. 2nd Ed. 1999. R.W. Allard. John Wiley and
Sons. Chapt. 6. This reading explores the interaction of the genetic
constitution of plants with the environment in which they grow.

General Genetics. 1952. Srb and Owen. W.H. Freeman and Co. Chapt. 23.
This chapter will help you understand how some of the basic concepts of
genetics apply to plant breeding and the genetic dynamics of different types
of biological populations. Read through page 500.

5. Self-pollinated Species
Self-pollinated species have evolved to withstand inbreeding through their
normal selfing in reproduction and still remain fertile, exhibit vigor, and
be productive in an agricultural sense. Hence, the ways in which we
maintain, select, and improve "selfers" is quite different from the ways in
which we treat cross-pollinated species.

Readings:
Principles of Plant Breeding. 1st Ed. 1960. R.W. Allard. Chapt. 11.

Principles of Plant Breeding. 2nd Ed. 1999. R.W. Allard. Chapt. 13.
To contrast the changing view of breeding self-pollinated species I am
assigning both chapter 11 from the 1st edition (as it discusses the more
traditional view of breeding selfers) and chapter 13 from the 2nd edition as
it explores in detail the evolutionary advantages of maintaining selfers as
multi-lines or mixtures. Only read through page 188 in chapter 13.

6. Cross-pollinated Species
Through biological mechanisms that insure a large degree of out-crossing,
cross-pollinated species have evolved to maintain their best health,
fecundity, and vigor by "covering up" deleterious genes when they randomly
"openly pollinate" in large populations. Thus the practices used in
maintaining and improving them is quite different than the practices used in
selfers.

Readings:
Principles of Plant Breeding. 1st Ed. 1960. R.W. Allard. John Wiley and
Sons. Chapt. 23. Recurrent selection is the best breeding method for
improving crossers and maintaining good genetic elasticity. Read through
page 291.

Principles of Plant Breeding. 2nd Ed. 1999. R.W. Allard. John Wiley and
Sons. Chapt. 14. Allard has performed quite a feat by packing all the
important concepts about breeding crossers into this chapter. While this
chapter,s title implies that it is geared only to hybrids, we,ll discuss how
many of these ideas, i.e. combining ability, heterosis, and recurrent
selection can be used in alternative ways to insure genetic health and vigor
when breeding crossers.

7. Quantitative Inheritance
Multiple genes determine the vast majority of traits that are important in
our agricultural crops. Our understanding of the mode inheritance of these
traits is essential in our ability to create resilient germplasm that can
resist diseases, insects, drought, and other environmental stresses.

Readings:
Principles of Plant Breeding. 2nd Ed. 1999. R.W. Allard. John Wiley and
Sons. Chapt. 8. While this chapter presents some very important concepts
in terms of mathematical equations, don,t get bogged down with the
nomenclature. Read through page 102 for the concepts only.

8. Philosophy of Selection
When considering which plants to advance to the next generation is when the
true meeting of art and science takes place in plant breeding. These
readings are a very nice glimpse into some of the real issues that you will
encounter in selection as you start to consider the differences between
genotype and phenotype.

The Principles of Heredity. 4th Ed. 1951. L.H. Snyder. D.C. Heath & Co.
Chapt. 17. A classic overview on selection with great examples from
agriculture.

Principles of Plant Breeding. 1st Ed. 1960. R.W. Allard. Chapt. 16.

Principles of Plant Breeding. 2nd Ed. 1999. R.W. Allard. Chapt. 17.
These two chapters from Allard are very important compliment of both the
practical and philosophical aspects of selection. Chapter 17 presents
several key concepts important in breeding for low-input agriculture,
especially the concept of genotype x environment interaction.

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties. 2nd Ed. 2000. C. Deppe. Chelsea Green
Publ. Co. Chapt. 20. Carol Deppe lists some very good basics that we
should all be mindful of when performing genetic selection of our crops. I
have not included this reading in the booklet as I encourage all of you to
support Carol,s work by buying a copy of her book! (Or encourage your local
library to buy it!)

Genetics. 3rd Ed. 1930. H.E. Walter. Macmillan Co. Chapt. 9, part 4.
Starting on page 193, The Art and Science of Breeding is a wonderful
philosophical treatment of the subject of selection.

9. Disease Resistance
One of the most important things that we can improve in our crops is their
Horizontal Resistance to diseases and insects. This topic will be central to
discussions of breeding for a truly sustainable agriculture.

Breeding Plants for Disease Resistance. 1973. R.R. Nelson. Penn. State
Univ. Press. Chapt. 2. A great text for the basic concepts of plant
disease.

Return to Resistance. 1996. R. Robinson. agAccess. Intro. & Chapts. 13.
Robinson is the most powerful voice today for Horizontal Resistance.

10. Revitalizing Established Varieties and Developing New Varieties
Much of what I,ll talk about under this heading departs from the mainstream
and can,t be found in any texts, however the concepts presented on
population breeding in these following chapters are central to my
philosophy.

Principles of Plant Breeding. 1st Ed. 1960. R.W. Allard. 1960. Chapt.
21.

11. Resources Necessary for a Breeding Program

 

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