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Toward A New Agriculture for North Carolina

(From Plant Breeding Brochure)

Key To Agricultural Productivity

Plant breeders at North Carolina State University have contributed much toward building North Carolina's $6.3 billion agricultural industry. N. C. State's plant breeding program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) is the pivotal component of cultivar development in the state.

Plant breeders create new genetic lines that have disease and insect resistances, better flavor, higher yields, more tolerance to environmental stresses and, ultimately, better consumer acceptance. The plant breeder's goal is to develop plant cultivars that will be more profitable for the producer and be safe for the environment.

The expertise of these researchers ranges from fundamental plant genetics and molecular biology to applied experimental design and field plot technique. Many of the university's programs have international components to collect and disseminate germplasm or evaluate improved lines.

Field and Lab

  • N.C. State's crop improvement successes have evolved around the state's many commodities, including field and horticultural crops, forages, and turfgrass. North Carolina breeders have developed high-yielding, high-quality cultivars with resistance to diseases, viruses, nematodes, and insects. Today the work continues as genetic mechanisms, or switches which control specific desired traits such as fatty acid regulation, drought tolerance, and pathogen resistance, are being determined for several crop species.
  • Genetic, biosystematic, and crop improvement studies benefit from plant and seed collections of agronomic and horticultural crops as well as thousands of cultivated and wild plants. Researchers are incorporating genes from these resources into high-yielding cultivars using classical and new techniques such as plant cytogenetics, tissue culture and DNA technologies. This work is being conducted in campus greenhouses and labs, including the phytotron, and as research stations across the state.
  • The genetic make-up of many North Carolina crops allow researchers to manipulate different numbers and types of chromosomes, and cooperation with pathologists and nematologists has advanced the understanding of heredity and genetic function in important crop plants. Several CALS programs incorporate molecular genetic techniques into more conventional breeding programs to increase selection efficiency. For example, genes from various species are inserted into the genomes of cultivated tobacco and peanut through plant transformation techniques.

Unified Programs Secure Dividends

  • The plant breeding program at N. C. State is considered one of the nation's outstanding programs in terms of size and quality. N. C. State's commitment to plant breeding research and education makes it one of the world's leaders in training new plant breeders. Plant breeding serves as the focal point for many crop improvement disciplines, especially plant pathology, entomology, food science, and crop science. Teams of experts integrate all phases of plant improvement to solve problems in production agriculture. Germplasm with improved traits and elite lines are being released for several commodities, such as maize, wheat, oats, barley, peanut, tobacco, cotton, soybean, forages, and horticultural crops.
  • Its history of success coupled with the strength of its faculty and facilities will ensure that N. C. State's plant breeding program will continue to play an important role in variety development for North Carolina and beyond.
  • For further information on the plant breeding program, Contact the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 7601 Raleigh, NC 27695, telephone 919-515-2718.

Expertise To Guide Development

  • North Carolina State University, through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, strives to assist North Carolina farmers with research designed to help them enhance their livelihoods. Faculty expertise can provide specialized assistant in many areas of plant biology.
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Box 7601North Carolina State UniversityRaleigh, NC 27695-7601(919) 515-2641
Page citation: Wehner, T.C., NCSU Plant Breeding;
Created by T.C. Wehne
r, 29 November 2000 ; design by C.T. Glenn;
send questions to T.C. Wehner; last revised on 30 August, 2005