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A Belgian Blue cow. The defect in the breed's myostatin gene is maintained through linebreeding and is responsible for its accelerated lean muscle growth

Selective breeding is the process of breeding plants and animals for particular genetic traits. Typically, strains which are selectively bred are domesticated, and the breeding is sometimes done by a professional breeder. Bred animals are known as breeds, while bred plants are known as varieties, cultigens, or cultivars. The cross of animals results in what is called a crossbreed and crossbred plants are called hybrids. The term selective breeding is synonymous with artificial selection.

In animal breeding techniques such as inbreeding, linebreeding and outcrossing are utilized. In plant breeding similar methods are used. Charles Darwin discussed how selective breeding had been successful in producing change over time in his book, Origin of Species. The first chapter of the book discusses selective breeding and domestication of such animals as pigeons, dogs and cattle. Selective breeding was used by Darwin as a springboard to introduce the theory of natural selection, and to support it.[1]

Contents

Animal breeding

Animals with homogeneous appearance, behavior, and other characteristics are known as particular breeds, and they are bred through culling particular traits and selecting for others. Purebred animals have a single, recognizable breed, and purebreds with recorded lineage are called pedigreed. Crossbreeds are a mix of two purebreds, while mixed breeds are a mix of several breeds, often unknown. Animal breeding begins with breeding stock, a group of animals used for purpose of planned breeding. When individuals are looking to breed animals, they look for certain valuable traits in purebred stock for a certain purpose, or may intend to use some type of crossbreeding to produce a new type of stock with different, and presumably superior abilities in a given area of endeavor. For example, to breed chickens, a typical breeder intends to receive eggs, meat, and new, young birds for further reproduction. Thus the breeder has to study different breeds and types of chickens and analyze what can be expected from a certain set of characteristics before he or she starts breeding them. Accordingly, when purchasing initial breeding stock, the breeder seeks a group of birds that will most closely fit the purpose intended.

Purebred breeding aims to establish and maintain stable traits, that animals will pass to the next generation. By "breeding the best to the best," employing a certain degree of inbreeding, considerable culling, and selection for "superior" qualities, one could develop a bloodline superior in certain respects to the original base stock. Such animals can be recorded with a breed registry, the organization that maintains pedigrees and/or stud books. However, single-trait breeding, breeding for only one trait over all others, can be problematic.[2] In one case mentioned by animal behaviorist Temple Grandin, roosters bred for fast growth or heavy muscles didn't know how to perform typical rooster courtship dances, which alienated the roosters from hens and led the roosters to kill the hens after raping them.[2]

The observable phenomenon of hybrid vigor stands in contrast to the notion of breed purity. However, on the other hand, indiscriminate breeding of crossbred or hybrid animals may also result in degradation of quality.

Plant breeding

Plant breeding has been used for thousands of years, and began with the domestication of wild plants into uniform and predictable agricultural cultigens. High-yielding varieties have been particularly important in agriculture.

Selective plant breeding is also used in research to produce transgenic animals that breed "true" (i.e. are homozygous) for artificially inserted or deleted genes.[citation needed]

See also

References

  1. ^ *Darwin, Charles (2004). The Origin of Species. London: CRW Publishing Limited. ISBN 1904633781. 
  2. ^ a b Grandin, Temple; Johnson, Catherine (2005). [69-71 Animals in Translation]. New York, New York: Scribner. ISBN 0743247698. 69-71. 

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