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holistic including all the parts or factors that relate to an object or idea

Plant breeding is the science ultimately concerned with the holistic and systematic creation of cultivars, cultivated varieties of plant species better suited to the needs and pleasures of human societies. In many ways, plant breeding is analogous to a large river system such as the Mississippi: it has a primary source (the gene pool of the plant species), a main river (the elite gene pool of plant breeding methods), tributaries (new technology and scientific disciplines), the ability to adapt to the prevailing conditions and forces of nature, and it is replenished by recycled water (germplasm, all genotypes of a species). Plant breeders devise and deploy methods that, in accordance with their resources, the nature of the plant and production environment, and the prevailing goals of society, integrate information and material from the tributaries to produce better cultivars. The scientific tributaries have included the biological (e.g., genetics, botany, biochemistry, plant pathology, entomology), physical (e.g., mathematics, chemistry, computer), and analytical (e.g., experimental design and statistics) sciences. Some important technological tributaries include methods for storing seed or other propag-ules, the computer for data analysis and management, and tools or machines for conducting the many experiments and evaluating the progeny needed to create a superior cultivar. New tributaries include genomics, molecular biology, and genetic engineering. While the tributaries have varied with the nature of the crop species and the resources and goals of the societies they support, the primary roles of the plant breeder—integration, evaluation, and selection—have been constant.

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