Plant genetic resources: Advancing conservation and use through biotechnology


N. Kameswara Rao

Conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources is essential to meet the demand for future food security. Advances in biotechnology have generated new opportunities for genetic resources conservation and utilization. Techniques like in vitro culture and cryopreservation have made it easy to collect and conserve genetic resources, especially of species that are difficult to conserve as seeds. While technologies like enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) have provided tools that are more sensitive and pathogen specific for seed health testing, tissue culture methods are now widely applied for elimination of systemic diseases such as viruses for safe exchange of germplasm. Molecular markers are increasingly used for screening of germplasm to study genetic diversity, identify redundancies in the collections, test accession stability and integrity, and resolve taxonomic relationships. The technology is also expanding the scope of genetic resources utilization.

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