Adaptation and Breeding in Cereal Crops

Adaptation is a basic survival aspect for any living thing and plants are no exception because they have to put up with stresses such as drought, cold or disease. Cereals make up a bigger portion of the staple foods that the world populations rely on for daily food. As such, sufficiency in the production of cereals is basic to global food security. The success of some grain varieties and breeds in some places has failed on other places and thus challenging the food sufficiency goal (Tigerstedt, 1996). This has mainly resulted from the lack of adaptability. Modern breeding and Mendelian genetics has allowed precise and specific genetic combinations which allows specific physiologic and morphologic characteristics to be attained such as shorter fruition periods, greater produce and shorter maturity periods. Despite, the advances in breeding and success in genetics and cytogenetics, this has not directly translated to higher cereal production and greater food security (Simmonds, 1991).

The major challenge has been seeking genetic transformation that matches local climatic and soil conditions so as to achieve greater productivity. For example, corn with shorter maturity period has been very successful in some local climate zones within Africa, where drought is common phenomenon. The perfection of breeding has allowed the existence of such breeds that can take a shorter maturity period to attain fruition. The same has been replicated elsewhere, but of greater concern is the fact that not all breeding has been able to match local geographical capacity so as to attain full productivity (Ceccarali, 2002).

The root cause of the problem has been the single minded approach to breeding, which fails to address adaptation issues. This work seeks to explain the essence of adaptation and also to express its importance as a key factor when thinking and formulating plant breeding plans. In essence, breeding is very fruitful and important in producing novel crops, but it fails to achieve success when it is not done with the due consideration about adaptation. For example, a bread cereal variety that attains shorter maturity period is less significant in a place whose problem is pests of diseases (Janick, 2011). This breeding bid or effort does not match the adaptation capacity sought for success. Therefore, many at times breeding has been simply done in a blind manner, just seeking to attain some novel genetic characteristics that translate into some success (Wilkinson & Finlay, 1963). The call for the paper is that adaptation and breeding should be handled as one and the same thing and the two should be put to common consideration so as to attain success in breeding.



Ceccarali, S. (2002).Decentralized-Participatory Plant Breeding: Adapting Crops to Environments and Clients, retrieved 25th June 2012 from

Janick, J. (2011). Plant Breeding Reviews, 2nd edition, John Wiley & Sons

Simmons, N.W/ (1991). Theoretical and Applied Genetics 82: 363-367

Tigerstedt, P.M.A. (1996). Adaptation in Plant Breeding, Developments in Plant Breeding, 4th edition, EUPHYTICA

Wilkinson, N. G. And Finlay, K. W. (1963).The analysis of adaptation in a plant breeding programme, retrieved 25th June 2012 from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *