Molecular Markers for Plant Variety Identification and Protection

Molecular Markers for Plant Variety Identification and Protection

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4312-2.ch004
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The identification of varieties of crop plants is important for their registration, breeding, seed production, and trade. The traditional approach to variety identification involves analysis and recording of their morphological characters, which is less informative, highly influenced by environmental factors and time consuming. Availability of molecular markers in large number in all the major crops has opened new avenue for their utilization in plant variety identification and protection. Molecular markers have the advantage of not being influenced by the environment and thus stable. Development of software to analyze and characterize the molecular markers has enhanced the process significantly. It also helps in protecting Plant Breeders Right. The establishment of genome and transcriptome sequencing projects for crops has generated a huge wealth of sequence data that could find much use in identification of plants varieties. In this chapter molecular basis of variety identification and their protection has been discussed.
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Seed Certification And Purification

Maintenance of high quality of the seeds is the purpose of seed certification. This ensures high germination rate, seed health, and mechanical purity. An approved conditioner or grower of the seeds must process the seed certification process. The seeds must be sampled, tested and graded by accredited and recognized agencies. During certification process, verification of seed quality is done through traditional phenotypic inspection. Molecular techniques are not presently employed. However, there exists potentiality to use molecular techniques, as a control tool, to ensure the efficiency of the seed certification process. Application of molecular techniques will increase the level of confidence of the farmers regarding purity and security of the certified seeds (Gupta et al., 2001).

Seed purification process involves the following steps: selection of heads from the trial plots, growing single-head-derived breeder lines, discarding phenotypically poor lines, growing remaining breeder lines and further discarding on the basis of visual observations, and bulking the first breeders seeds. Molecular techniques can assist while discarding the lines. However, the necessary laboratory facilities should be available to the breeder to carry out the required process.

Molecular techniques can also be applied for purification of seeds, particularly for hybrid crops. In rice, when two-line hybrid system is applied, false hybrids may arise due to selfing of the female parents as a result of sterility instability of environment-genic male sterile lines, caused by fluctuations in the temperature. Thus the false hybrid may coexist with the real hybrid seeds and the purity of the hybrid will be at stake. Such phenomenon can happen in any other crop and therefore application of molecular markers is recommended to check the purity of hybrid seeds (Collard & Mackill, 2008).

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