Imagine you must identify a glass of seawater among a hundred glasses of drinking water merely by looking at them. Almost impossible! But what if the glass with the seawater had a small red dot – a marker – on it? You would solve the riddle in no time.
Finding this marker is exactly what new developments in science now allow plant breeders to do.
Plant breeders improve crops by using natural or artificially-induced genetic variation to develop new traits. But they face enormous difficulties when integrating these improved traits into the varieties that farmers prefer; it’s a process that requires a lengthy and cumbersome series of crosses, followed by testing and confirming at each step.
But now, they can use modern DNA sequencing techniques to determine the plants’ entire genetic makeup. Just watch the animation and you will see how.