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Are We on the Right Track: Can Our Understanding of Abscission in Model Systems Promote or Derail Making Improvements in Less Studied Crops?

Sara E. Patterson, Jenny L. Bolivar-Medina, Tanya G. Falbel, Janet L. Hedtcke, Danielle Nevarez-McBride, Andrew F. Maule, Juan E. Zalapa
Frontiers in plant science 2016 v.6 no.1268 pp. 1-8
Arabidopsis, Digitaria exilis, abscission, climate, corn, cranberries, crops, crossing, economic valuation, ethylene, flowering, genetic improvement, grapes, plant breeding, plant stress, ploidy, rice, scientists, tomatoes
As the world population grows and resources and climate conditions change, crop improvement continues to be one of the most important challenges for agriculturalists. The yield and quality of many crops is affected by abscission or shattering, and environmental stresses often hasten or alter the abscission process. Understanding this process can not only lead to genetic improvement, but also changes in cultural practices and management that will contribute to higher yields, improved quality and greater sustainability. As plant scientists, we have learned significant amounts about this process through the study of model plants such as Arabidopsis, tomato, rice, and maize. While these model systems have provided significant valuable information, we are sometimes challenged to use this knowledge effectively as variables including the economic value of the crop, the uniformity of the crop, ploidy levels, flowering and crossing mechanisms, ethylene responses, cultural requirements, responses to changes in environment, and cellular and tissue specific morphological differences can significantly influence outcomes. The value of genomic resources for lesser-studied crops such as cranberries and grapes and the orphan crop fonio will also be considered.