Plant Breeding: Mendelian to Molecular Approaches

The Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding was established in 1941 in recognition of the growing contribution of improved crop varieties to the country's agriculture. Scientific plant breeding had started inIndia soon after the rediscovery of Mendel's laws of heredity. The Indian Agricultural Research Institute set up in 1905 and a number of Agricultural Colleges in different parts of the country carried out some of the earliest work mostly inthe form of pure-line selections. In subsequent years, hybridization programmes in crops like wheat, rice, oilseeds, grain legumes, sugarcane and cotton yielded a large number of improved cultivars with significantly higher yields. A turning point came in the 1960s with the development of hybrids in several crops including inter-specific hybrids in cotton. And when new germplasm with dwarfing genes became available in wheat and rice from CIMMYT and IRRI, respectively,Indian plant breeders quickly incorporated these genes into the genetic background of the country's widely grown varieties with excellent grain quality and other desirable traits. This was to mark the beginning of modem agriculture in India as more and more varieties were developed, characterized by a high harvest index and response to modem farm inputs like the inorganic fertilizers . India's green revolution which has led to major surpluses offood grains and othercommodities like sugar and cotton has been made possible by the work of one of the largest groups of plant breeders working in a coordinated network.