NEW PLANT BREEDING TECHNOLOGIES FOR A SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

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Martin Kater *
(*) Autore principale:
Martin Kater | martin.kater@unimi.it

Abstract

Agriculture has a 10,000-year history. During this period, humans selected natural mutants that were found to be useful for cultivation and human consumption. However, the selected characteristics are not always favorable for the plants themselves, often compromising their ability to survive and adapt to the natural environment. In this way, cultivated plants have become dependent, for their survival, on man as man is dependent on plants to survive. The increase in agricultural production was notable during the green revolution and even afterwards new genetic knowledge made it possible to drastically increase food production. However, now with the rapid growth of the world population, the selection of new cultivars has become necessary, not only capable of producing more but also able to do so with less water, fertilizers, insecticides etc. Plants that are more resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses, which are increasingly frequent in a world where climate change is becoming a major challenge for the future. Studying the genomes of plants and the functions of their genes is the only way to accelerate the genetic improvement of plants while protecting the environment. A very important technology to try to solve these problems is "genome editing", using the CRISPR-Cas system. Unfortunately, in Europe the use of this new technology in agriculture has found it is not easy to apply not so much for scientific reasons but for political ideologies contrary to this type of innovation in agriculture.


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