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Genetic Resources, Chromosome Engineering, and Crop Improvement: Cereals, Volume 2

2006 Edition, January 13, 2006

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ISBN: 978-0-8493-1432-2
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Product Details:

  • Revision: 2006 Edition, January 13, 2006
  • Published Date: January 13, 2006
  • Status: Active, Most Current
  • Document Language: English
  • Published By: CRC Press (CRC)
  • Page Count: 457
  • ANSI Approved: No
  • DoD Adopted: No

Description / Abstract:


Cereal crops — chiefly wheat, rice, maize, sorghum, and pearl millet — are the main food source for more than two thirds of the world population. From time immemorial humans have relied heavily on cereals for their dietary carbohydrates. Thus, cereals have had a profound impact on the development of human societies and influenced civilization — perhaps in more ways than any other group of crops. Ancient Egyptian tomb paintings depict cultivation of wheat and harvesting and grinding of wheat grain to make bread. Today, cereals supply over 80% of the dietary protein for most Asian and African countries. Being devoid of cholesterol, cereal grains provide wholesome food for human consumption, and there is an inverse association between intake of whole grains and cardiovascular disease (simin.liu@channing.harvard.edu). Severe protein malnutrition among the poor masses in Asian and African countries, where cereals constitute the staple human diet, is a serious problem of alarming proportions. Some 842 million people worldwide are malnourished (fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2004), and this number is likely to increase with the projected increase in human population from 6.1 billion to 8.0 billion by 2030. To meet the ever-increasing demand for food, genetic improvement of grain yields and nutritive value of cereal crops cannot be adequately emphasized.

Most improvement in cereal crops has been achieved so far through conventional breeding, aided to some extent by knowledge from agronomy, cytogenetics, plant pathology, entomology, and related disciplines. The improved wheat and rice cultivars in the 1960s and 1970s launched the Green Revolution, averting starvation among the poor masses in Asia. Sustained improvement in grain yields and nutritional quality must remain the ultimate goal of plant scientists to ensure global food security. Continued crop improvement will necessitate the employment of all available tools: germplasm collection and conservation, conventional breeding, cytogenetics, biotechnology, and molecular genetics, among others. Improving yields and nutrition of cereal crops have been the primary goals of international centers like the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico (maize and wheat); the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines (rice); the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India (sorghum and pearl millet); and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Syria (barley and wheat). Because there is no consolidated account of cereal crop improvement using conventional and modern tools, we planned to assemble such a book that constitutes Volume 2 in the series "Genetic Resources, Chromosome Engineering, and Crop Improvement." This book is also an outgrowth of a symposium on "Alien Gene Transfer and Cereal Crop Improvement" that one of us (P.P.J.) organized and chaired at the Crop Science Society of America Meetings, Salt Lake City, Utah, in November 1999. We invited world-renowned scientists from several countries to contribute chapters on a cereal crop of their expertise. This volume consists of 13 chapters dealing with major cereal crops: wheat (durum wheat and bread wheat), rice, maize, oat, barley, pearl millet, sorghum, rye, and triticale.

The introductory chapter by Jauhar outlines the cytogenetic architecture of cereal crops, describes the principles and strategies of cytogenetic and breeding manipulations, and summarizes the landmarks of research done on various crops. Thus, the author has attempted to set the stage for the reader to comprehend the ensuing chapters. Each chapter generally provides a comprehensive account of the crop; its origin; wild relatives; exploitation of genetic resources in the primary, secondary, and tertiary gene pools through breeding and cytogenetic manipulation; and genetic enrichment using the tools of molecular genetics and biotechnology. Durum wheat, being the forerunner of bread wheat, is dealt with first by Ceoloni and Jauhar in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 by Mujeeb-Kazi provides details on the utilization of genetic resources for bread wheat improvement, while wheat genomics is covered by Lapitan and Jauhar in Chapter 4. In Chapter 5, Brar and Khush give a comprehensive account of genetic resources and chromosome engineering in genetic improvement of rice. Genetic enhancement of maize for yield and protein quality is dealt with in Chapter 6 by Vasal, Riera-Lizarazu, and Jauhar. The subsequent chapters deal with oat, barley, pearl millet, sorghum, rye, and triticale.

Each chapter provides an authoritative account of the topic covered and was written by one or more experts in the field. We are privileged to have known the authors both professionally and personally and are very grateful to them for their invaluable contributions. Certain topics and research organisms are closely related, which has inevitably led to some overlap and duplication among chapters, although repetitions were minimized by giving cross-references. Each chapter can be read independently in this coherent volume on cereals.

We are also grateful to all the scientists who reviewed various chapters. Our communications with them were always cordial and friendly. We are particularly indebted to Charles Crane, Pierre Devaux, Sally Dillon, Pat Hayes, Eric Jellen, Daryl Klindworth, Mike McMullen, Richard Pickering, and Richard Cross for critically reviewing some of the chapters. Although every chapter has been appropriately reviewed by the editors and other experts in the field, the authors are ultimately responsible for the accuracy and completeness of their respective chapters. One of us (R.J.S.) expresses his gratitude to Dr. Steven G. Pueppke, Associate Dean and Research Director, University of Illinois, Urbana, for all his support and encouragement. Prem Jauhar is sincerely grateful to his wife, Raj Jauhar, for her help, patience, and understanding; she spent countless weekends and evenings at home alone when he was at work. But for her encourgement and unconditional support, this arduous journey would have been even more difficult.

This book is intended for scientists, professionals, and graduate students interested in genetic improvement of crops in general and cereals in particular. The book will be useful for plant breeders, agronomists, geneticists, cytogeneticists, taxonomists, evolutionists, molecular biologists, and biotechnologists. Graduate-level students in these disciplines with adequate background in genetics and a spectrum of other researchers interested in biology and agriculture will also find this volume a worthwhile reference. We sincerely hope that the information embodied in the book will help in the much-needed genetic amelioration of cereal crops to feed the ever-expanding human population. In addition, we hope that it helps to raise awareness of the importance of conserving wild genetic resources that may be exploited in improving their cultivated cereal relatives through cytogenetics and biotechnology.