This book is the report of a study on opportunities for the application of molecular biology to crop improvement in the EEC, with particular reference to wheat, oilseed rape and faba bean, carried out by the Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge, United Kingdom, under contract to the Commission of the European Communities (Division for Genetics and Biotechnology).
The Division called for an assessment of the opportunities for the application of molecular biology to the improvement of three species which play an important role in European agriculture, namely wheat, oilseed rape and faba beans. We considered that an assessment of this kind should be based on existing knowledge of these crops. From this, the need for particular improvements could be identified and an assessment made of the opportunity for making them offered by the available techniques of molecular and cell biology.
The main conclusions from the study are:
The biochemical study of genes and their primary products will continue to be of great value for research in plant biology. Through such research, a much better understanding will be gained of the molecular basis of growth and differentiation, of responses to environmental factors and of hast–pathogen and hast–pest interactions.
The ability to insert foreign and modified genes into plants, when better developed, will offer entirely new opportunities for making defined, limited changes to plant genotypes. Comparison of the modified and original genotypes will enable unequivocal tests to be made of alleged limiting points in plant metabolism and of the basis of resistance to particular pests and pathogens. This work will also show how improvements in yield, quality and pest and pathogen resistance may be achieved.