The revolution of inexpensive sequencing has ushered in an unprecedented age of genomics. The promise of using this technology to accelerate plant breeding is being realized with a vision of genomics-assisted breeding that will lead to rapid genetic gain for expensive and difficult traits. The reality is now that robust phenotypic data is an increasing limiting resource to complement the current wealth of genomic information. While genomics has been hailed as the discipline to fundamentally change the scope of plant breeding, a more symbiotic relationship is likely to emerge. In the context of developing and evaluating large populations needed for functional genomics, none excel in this area more than plant breeders. While genetic studies have long relied on dedicated, well-structured populations, the resources dedicated to these populations in the context of readily available, inexpensive genotyping is making this philosophy less tractable relative to directly focusing functional genomics on material in breeding programs. Through shifting effort for basic genomic studies from dedicated structured populations, to capturing the entire scope of genetic determinants in breeding lines, we can move towards not only furthering our understanding of functional genomics in plants, but also rapidly improving crops for increased food security, availability and nutrition.
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