Breeding via marker-assisted selection (MAS – Marker Assisted Selection)

Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) allows the use of DNA fragments associated with target genes (known as molecular markers) to select efficiently plants with specific agronomic traits (disease resistance or stress tolerance, grain quality, yield).

Marker assisted breeding is able to determine the presence of the desired genetic trait directly at the DNA level (i.e. the "genotype"), as opposed to the conventional breeding based on the evaluation of the trait through the analysis of the "phenotype" that is at the level of the whole plant or its parts. MAS can be more efficient, effective and reliable than phenotypic selection. Furthermore, MAS can shorten the development time of varieties significantly.

It’s important to note that a plant obtained with these techniques is not a GMO plant (genetically modified organism). In the case of the MAS we cross only genomes mutually compatible as is done in conventional breeding, or works only within a same type of seeds or plants, with the only difference that shorten greatly the achievement of results; in the case of GMOs other hand, the genomes that are crossed can come from different species, as in nature could never take place and with results that are much more difficult to predict.

The modern genetic breeding must therefore be based on biodiversity and must be able to exploit the molecular selection in combination with the traditional selection. In this way, the availability of biodiversity on the one hand and efficient means of selection on the other are the two fundamental aspects to ensure a future in the field of variety renewal, in the face of climate change and in the respect of the environment, continuing to pursue those basic requirements (high protein content, high gluten quality and high yellow index) in order to achieve variety able to produce grain of quality.