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Marker-assisted breeding uses DNA markers associated with desirable traits to select a plant or animal for inclusion in a breeding program early in its development.

This approach dramatically reduces the time required to identify varieties or breeds which express the desired trait in a breeding program. The marker may be the sequence of the gene that determines the trait, but in most cases, it is a DNA sequence which is located very close to the gene of interest and is therefore always inherited with the trait. Desirable traits include characteristics such as disease resistance, salt tolerance and high yield.

We’re using marker-assisted breeding to breed hornless cattle and protect wine grapes from mildew.

Hornless cattle

The Poll Gene Marker test developed in Australia has been adopted worldwide. This genetic test is helping breeders to select for hornless cattle, which makes it safer for the animals themselves and the people handling them. It also helps the industry end the painful practice of dehorning beef cattle.

Protecting wine grapes from mildew

With an estimated cost to the Australian wine industry of approximately $140 million per annum, powdery and downy mildew are the most economically important diseases in viticulture, causing reduced yield and loss of berry and wine quality. Our scientists have used marker-assisted breeding techniques to develop new mildew-resistant premium winegrape varieties that provide growers with an alternative to fungicides in the constant battle against these deadly pathogens.

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