Genomic prediction unifies animal and plant breeding programs to form platforms for biological discovery

Nat Genet. 2017 Aug 30;49(9):1297-1303. doi: 10.1038/ng.3920.


The rate of annual yield increases for major staple crops must more than double relative to current levels in order to feed a predicted global population of 9 billion by 2050. Controlled hybridization and selective breeding have been used for centuries to adapt plant and animal species for human use. However, achieving higher, sustainable rates of improvement in yields in various species will require renewed genetic interventions and dramatic improvement of agricultural practices. Genomic prediction of breeding values has the potential to improve selection, reduce costs and provide a platform that unifies breeding approaches, biological discovery, and tools and methods. Here we compare and contrast some animal and plant breeding approaches to make a case for bringing the two together through the application of genomic selection. We propose a strategy for the use of genomic selection as a unifying approach to deliver innovative 'step changes' in the rate of genetic gain at scale.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breeding / history
  • Breeding / methods*
  • Crops, Agricultural / genetics
  • Forecasting
  • Genetic Association Studies / methods*
  • Genome, Plant
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genomics / methods*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Plant Breeding / history
  • Plant Breeding / methods*
  • Selection, Genetic