Advancements in science and technology in agriculture have allowed plant breeders to develop new plant varieties in a much faster and precise manner. These technologies and tools are commonly referred to as New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs) and allow plant breeders to perform targeted mutagenesis, or introduce new genetic material into a plant without worrying about barriers such as relatedness of species (unlike Conventional Plant Breeding). These tools and techniques enable plant breeding to take place at a faster and more precise manner and offers several advantages over conventional plant breeding. Though these techniques are termed “New Plant Breeding Techniques”, some of them they are hardly new and have been successfully employed since the 1980’s to create transgenic crops which are currently cultivated in several regions of the world. The most well-known of these techniques is CRISPR/Cas9 which which can be seen as the poster-child for NPBTs and allows plant breeders to generate desired mutants in plants with relative ease and precision. Moreover, CRISPR/Cas9 induced mutations which are very similar to naturally occuring mutations in plants though CRISPR/Cas9 is a fast-targeted approach whilst naturally occurring mutations occur randomly and can take several years to achieve the same.
GMO plants cultivated at different regions of the world (Figure created in: Biorender.com)
Time required for generating novel plant varieties through existing breeding strategies. Credit: Chen et al., 2019, Annu. Rev. Plant Biol. 70:667-97