Speed breeding is a powerful tool to accelerate crop research and breeding

Nat. Plants. The current rate of crop plant breeding, limited by the long generation time of crop plants, is insufficient to address the needs caused by the enormous increase in the human population accompanied by climate change. Watson et al. have recently presented a method called ‘Speed breeding’ which is based on increasing the period of illumination through supplemental lighting, which greatly shortens crop generation time.  Plants grown under speed-breeding conditions flower in approximately half the time than those in standard conditions, making it possible to achieve up to six generations per year in several crop species. This method has been tested for spring wheat, durum wheat, barley, chickpea, pea, and canola.  Moreover, development under speed breeding was normal although accelerated, and the harvested seeds from speed-bred plants were completely viable.  Additionally, seed production (g per plant) was also similar between speed-breeding and control conditions in canola and chickpea. Hence, this method shows a great potential to accelerate cereal research and cultivar improvement when combined with modern breeding technologies. (Summary by Amey Redkar) Nat. Plants. 10.1038/s41477-017-0083-8