Beyond food and nutritional security: biotechnological interventions for unlocking the genetic potentials of underutilized and underexploited fruit crops
Ushering agricultural biotechnological tools in the past decades focused on just a handful of the main grains contributing less than 30 plant species. Molecular breeding has shown to accelerate crop improvement in terms of greater yield by reducing losses due to biotic and abiotic stresses and improving the nutritional quality of the food grains. In contrast, a great many more neglected and underused crops exist on the globe that are more nutritious and retain better physical appearance, taste, processing qualities, economic gains, etc. Especially underutilised fruits have high levels of micronutrients and other health-boosting factors. They have an important role in healthy and diverse diets for nutritional maladies since they are naturally bio-fortified fruits and could be used as prospective sources for identifying genes associated with genetic improvement of nutrition. Further, their ability to thrive even under heavy biotic and abiotic stress conditions make them as potential genetic materials for finding alleles that help fight climate change and evolve new climate-smart resilient crop plants, because they often need less water and tolerate higher temperatures and droughts. However, undertaking such studies in minor fruit crops is progressing very slowly. This paper highlights recent developments in next generation sequencing technologies coupled with marker or genomics assisted selection and genetic engineering and their applications in development of novel minor fruit crops. It also describes the potential of these underexplored fruit crops to address the demands of modern agricultureand society and efforts to tackle such new challenges using biotechnological tools.
Manikanda Boopathi, N. (2019). Beyond food and nutritional security: biotechnological interventions for unlocking the genetic potentials of underutilized and underexploited fruit crops. Acta Hortic. 1241, 255-262
minor fruit crops, genomics assisted selection, molecular breeding, plant tissue culture, genome editing, next generation sequencing, QTLs