Preface

Most of the plant breeding programs aim to increase yield, disease and insect resistance, abiotic stress tolerance and to improve quality characteristics. The value of new plant breeding products and varieties in increasing food production has been demonstrated time and again. To meet growing need of ever increasing human population, we need to enhance food production for sustaining food supply. Furthermore, several biotic and abiotic stresses continue to threaten crop productivity. Moreover with urbanization, land for cultivation is shrinking and several environment concerns involving excessive use of fertilizers and agro-chemicals, soil and water pollution including water scarcity are key issues in increasing crop productivity and food sustainability. Plant breeders therefore, has the major challenge how to increase crop productivity with limited land, limited water, limited chemicals and limited labour particularly in the context of global climate changes. In the genomics era, advances in molecular biology have opened new opportunities to accelerate plant breeding processes and in overcoming some of the above constraints limiting crop productivity. Molecular markers have become important tools in the hands of plant breeders in marker assisted breeding and for enhancing the selection efficiency for various agronomic traits in precision 'plant' breeding. The isolation, cloning and moving of genes from diverse biological sources into plant genomes holds promise to broaden the gene pool of crops and develop new plant varieties for specific traits that determine yield, quality, and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. New genomics tools will be of great value to support conventional breeding for sustainable food production especially under the climate change and meet demand of ever growing human population.

The first edition of this book, "Molecular techniques in crop improvement" published in 2002 covered various topics related to molecular markers and their application in plant breeding. Since then, major advances have been made in molecular tagging of genes/QTLs governing complex agronomic traits, identification of candidate genes and in applying marker assisted breeding for tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses and quality traits. Recent advances in transgenic technologies, genome sequencing and functional genomics offer tremendous opportunities to support plant breeding programs. Therefore, we are encouraged to cover recent advances and come out with the second edition of this book. In this edition we have included 31 chapters, which are divided into four parts. Part I is on Plant

Breeding in the genomic era and has four chapters. Part II deals with Molecular Markers and their application and contains six chapters. Eleven chapters dealing with different aspects of Genomics are covered in Part III. The remaining ten chapters dealing with Transgenic Technologies are dealt in Part IV. Some of the major topics covered in this book are on: QTL analysis, comparative genomics, functional genomics, bioinformatics, gene-based marker systems, automation of DNA marker analysis, molecular markers for abiotic and biotic stresses as well as for germ plasm conservation, gene pyramiding, gene stacking, gene silencing, TILLING, CISGENESIS, microarray, metablomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, microRNAs, marker-free transformation, Plant RNAi, and floriculture genetic engineering. All manuscripts were peer reviewed and revised accordingly. We are thankful to all reviewers for sparing precious time to review manuscripts, and that certainly helped to improve their quality.

This edition will certainly benefit plant breeders, biotechnologists, and molecular biologists, and an excellent source to provide advanced knowledge of molecular biology to post graduate students involved in biotechnology and plant breeding research.

We take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Springer publisher for giving us this opportunity to bring out the second edition of this book.

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