SMART Breeding or Precision Breeding
SMART breeding - SMART is an acronym for Selection with Markers and Advanced Reproductive Technologies. This selection process – after the crossing of different cultivars – uses molecular markers to identify if a specific gene or gene combination is available in a certain plant at a very early developmental stage. This gene combination represents an advantageous agricultural trait of the plant, which is in most cases transferred from a low-yielding cultivar (that contains the trait) to a high-yielding cultivar, in order to enhance its performance in the field.
The respective approach of precision breeding accelerates normal breeding as it reduces the selection time. It is not longer necessary to wait until the full, specific phenotype is expressed, and plants can be selected directly based on a specific trait.
To achieve this goal, it is of major importance to establish a very tight correlation between the advantageous phenotype and the comprehensive genetic background signified by the set of markers used for selection. For hybrid plants, it is essential to gain a better understanding and validation of how the advantageous genes introgress appropriately in the full population of the hybrid seeds and lead to the advantageous phenotypic traits in the field.
SMART breeding and precision breeding require accurate control of environmental conditions and non-destructive plant phenotyping, which can be provided by LemnaTec scanalyzerHTS and scanalyzer3D systems.
The role of LemnaTec scanalyzer plant phenotyping in SMART breeding
To establish and validate the correlation between the advantageous phenotype and the relevant genetic background, comprehensive phenotyping of large plant sets under tightly controlled conditions is necessary. To provide such environmental conditions often requires LemnaTec scanalyzer conveyor systems, as they are able to homogenise growth conditions, control water usage / soil humidity and allow the addition of appropriate amounts of nutrients. Especially for the characterisation of complex and relevant agricultural traits such as drought tolerance, disease resistance or elevated biomass production, large amounts of quantitative data are necessary to correlate them properly with the genetic data acquired in parallel. Such datasets are acquired with LemnaTec scanalyzerHTS or scanalyzer3D imaging units. Only reproducible tests in controlled environments can be performed all year round and will thus accelerate the validation process as well as confirm if the correlation between and phenotype and genotype (GxE=P) is stringent enough to use it for SMART breeding.
After the fast marker-based screening, it makes sense to validate the screening once more under tightly controlled conditions and check for the intended phenotype, as complex traits may not be represented well enough by the original set of markers. In this case, high-throughput plant phenotyping with LemnaTec scanalyzer systems ensures the validation of traits and genes, and thus allows putting the focus of breeding on the most promising candidates.