Breeding plants to create new varieties and improve upon old ones is a hobby that nearly everyone can engage in. The crossing techniques are easy to learn and you can experiment with many kinds of plants. Generally, amateur plant breeders work with traits that are fairly easy to change for example, flower color, fruit shape, or plant size. Nevertheless, although your experiment may be simple, it is possible for you to produce unusual or beautiful plants.
Artificial selection is the process that humans use to obtain more desirable types of plants. Thousands of years ago people learned that saving seed from the kind of plant they wanted to continue growing would increase the chances of getting a plant similar to the original. But our ancestors didn’t know what their chances of success were nor did they understand the processes by which traits were changed or maintained. It wasn’t until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that humans began to understand the laws of heredity and the processes of plant reproduction. Even today these fundamentals aren’t completely understood. But enough is known so that we can select plants for breeding with considerably more assurance of success than our primitive ancestors did.
Asexual, or vegetative, reproduction occurs without the fusion of germ (reproductive) cells. In garden plants, asexual reproduction occurs when a part of the plant is separated from the parent plant and develops into a complete plant, as when strawberries produce runners which take root and form new strawberry plants. Asexual reproduction can be brought about artificially by means of leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, root cuttings, etc. Plants that originate from asexual reproduction are usually identical to the parent plant.
Sexual reproduction involves the union of a male and a female germ cell. From this union a seed — and ultimately a new plant — is produced. Sexual reproduction is the most common type of reproduction for garden plants. The plants originating from sexual reproduction are often quite different from their parents and from each other. Because of this possibility for variation, sexual reproduction of plants is the method used by plant breeders in developing new strains and varieties.
- Facts About the Process of Plant Reproduction (brighthub.com)
- Sexual plant reproduction: Male and female talk in the same way as do cells in your brain (physorg.com)
- Plant breeding is being transformed by advances in genomics and computing (sciencedaily.com)
- Back to the Wild to Build Better, Climate-Resilient Wheat (scientificamerican.com)