Genetic Resources and Plant Biotechnology
To increase both sustainability and productivity in agriculture, crop science, from pre-breeding to production management, needs to make better use of genetic diversity. For instance, adapted and exotic genetic resources can greatly contribute to generate varieties with enhanced adaptation to different climatic conditions and with improved plasticity in response to stressful factors. These features are central to reducing vulnerability to stress and supporting more diversified and sustainable agro-ecological systems. The methods of biotechnology now permit a greater understanding of both species and genetic diversity in plants, the mechanisms by which that variation is generated in nature, and the significance of that variation in the adaptation of plants to their environment. They allow the development of rapid methods for screening germplasm for specific characters and promote more effective conservation strategies by defining the extent of genetic diversity. Tissue culture-based techniques are available for conserving germplasm that cannot be maintained by more traditional methods. The impact of new innovations is wide-ranging and includes the possibility to improve our understanding and exploitation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA). These new technologies are expected to transform the study of PGRFA into a more technologically intensive, information-rich science, in which the integration and interpretation of different kinds of data will be central to fully unlock the potential of genetic diversity for agriculture. We hope and trust that the information in this book will be used as the basis for policy and technical decisions to strengthen national efforts to conserve and utilize the treasures incorporated in the Indian plant genetic resources to address the urgent problems faced by agriculturists.