Challenges for effective marker-assisted selection in plants

Genetica. 2009 Jun;136(2):303-10. doi: 10.1007/s10709-008-9307-1. Epub 2008 Aug 10.


The basic principle of Marker-Assisted Selection (MAS) is to exploit Linkage Disequilibrium (LD) between markers and QTLs. With strong enough LD, MAS should in theory be easier, faster, cheaper, or more efficient than classical (phenotypic) selection. I briefly review the major MAS methods, describing some 'success stories' where MAS was applied successfully in the context of plant breeding, and detailing other cases where efficiency was not as high as expected. I discuss the possible causes explaining the difference between theoretical expectations and practical observations. Finally, I review the principal challenges and issues that must be tackled to make marker-assisted selection in plants more effective in the future, namely: managing and controlling QTL stability to apply MAS to complex traits, and integrating MAS in traditional breeding practices to make it more economically attractive and applicable in developing countries.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding / methods*
  • Genes, Plant
  • Genetic Markers / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Multifactorial Inheritance
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics
  • Selection, Genetic*


  • Genetic Markers