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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2008 Apr;11(2):193-200. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2007.12.006. Epub 2008 Feb 29.

Leveraging natural diversity: back through the bottleneck.

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  • 1Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, 162 Emerson Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Plant breeders have long recognized the existence of useful genetic variation in the wild ancestors of our domesticated crop species. In cultivated rice (Oryza sativa), crosses between high-yielding elite cultivars and low-yielding wild accessions often give rise to superior offspring, with wild alleles conferring increased performance in the context of the elite cultivar genetic background. Because the breeding value of wild germplasm cannot be determined by examining the performance of wild accessions, a phylogenetic approach is recommended to determine which interspecific combinations are most likely to be useful in a breeding program. As we deepen our understanding of how genetic diversity is partitioned within and between cultivated and wild gene pools of Oryza, breeders will have increased power to make predictions about the most efficient strategies for utilizing wild germplasm for rice improvement.

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