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Molecular breeding of forage and turf.
T Yamada, G. Spangenberg eds.
New York: Springer. £75.50
(hardback). 352 pp.
Molecular breeding of forage and turf is a collection of papers from plenary lectures and oral presentations at the 5th International Symposium on the Molecular Breeding of Forage and Turf that was held in Sapporo, Japan, in 2007. The collection of papers deals with the molecular analysis of traits of agricultural/turf importance, including disease resistance, stress tolerance and biomass yield.
The book includes 31 well-presented papers on topics ranging from gene discovery to improved cultivar development. The papers look at a wide range of forage and turf plants, chiefly from the genera Lolium, Festuca and Trifolium. The text provides a diverse overview of current molecular research being performed in forage and turf plants and succeeds in bringing the reader up to date on the progress in molecular technologies being employed to elucidate the genetic control of important traits. The book opens with the general paper ‘Molecular breeding to improve forages for use in animal and biofuel production systems’ by J. H. Bouton, which acts as a solid introduction to current topics in forage molecular breeding. The remaining papers mostly deal with specific traits in the various forages and turf plants, although there are a few more general papers including ‘DREB regulons in abiotic-stress-responsive gene expression in plants’ by K. Yamaguchi-Shinozaki and K. Shinozaki, and ‘Comparative genomics in legumes’ by S. Cannon.
One shortcoming of the book is the limited number of papers reporting on the real application of molecular markers in breeding programmes. However, this probably reflects the difficulties associated with marker-assisted breeding in forage and turf species. One of the papers that does deal with the application of markers is by B. Barrett, I. Baird and D. Woodfield and entitled ‘White clover seed yield: A case study in marker-assisted selection’. It describes the potential of marker-assisted selection in current breeding schemes using simple sequence repeat markers linked to quantitative trait loci (QTL) for seed yield traits. Another paper concerned with the application of markers, and a highlight of the book, is a paper by Brummer and Casler entitled ‘Improving selection in forage, turf, and biomass crops using molecular markers’, which discusses the potential of using association mapping directly in the breeding programme to identify marker–trait associations.
The book will find an audience within the forge and turf community, particularly with those who were unable to attend the symposium. Overall, it contains well-written papers from experts in the field and provides a solid overview of the current research topics in forage and turf molecular breeding.