Conventional plant breeding based on phenotypic selection has resulted in perceptible genetic change in productivity of economic product and has been effective in enhancing the economic value of major crop plants. The pace of genetic gains in yield and
other complex traits is difficult to maintain if, only pre-genomics era technologies are used. While, conventional pre-genomics plant breeding has been, is, and will be successful in improving the economic worth of crops, the application
of genomic and bioinformatics tools and resources will further push forward the genetic gains achieved by conventional plant breeding.
Advances in genomics help develop cultivars with improved characteristics either by facilitating improved efficiency of selection per breeding cycle and per unit time (such as genomic selection) and/or by harnessing the variation generated in target genes
(such as gene editing). While, gene editing is genome information enabled tool to generate mutagenesis in target gene for selection of desired mutants, genomic selection (GS) is a form of Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) without
QTL mapping of desired phenotypes early in the breeding cycle without laborious, time consuming mapping and validating QTL controlling target traits.
While GS is becoming popular tool in animal breeding, it is of late garnering the attention of plant breeders. Thus, both GS and gene editing tools could be integrated into, and compliment conventional plant breeding for
cultivar development. The process of cultivar development using gene editing is more precise than either conventional crop breeding methods or standard genetic engineering methods. Gene editing modifies only the existing/native
target gene(s) sequence and therefore is considered as safe tool for generating genetic variability and selection of desired phenotype. Hence, crop varieties developed using gene editing technology are not expected to be associated
with laborious, time consuming and expensive regulatory processes as is in vogue with respect to transgenic varieties.
However, empirical evidence regarding the effectiveness of GS and potential of gene editing (which are regarded as precision breeding tools) and the best methodology for their application in general and dolichos bean and rice, respectively in particular
are limited. The main focus the activity 1b would on crop improvement in important crops (dolichos bean and rice, finger millet, etc.,) using advanced genomic tools.