"For many crop plants, markers are still lacking because of the complexity of some plants' genomes and the very high costs involved," said Professor Ian Bancroft, who led the study at the John Innes Centre. "We have succeeded in developing markers based on the sequences of expressed genes, widening the possibilities for accelerated breeding through marker assisted selection."
Expressed genes are converted from genomic DNA to mRNA. Working with mRNA means that there is no need to generate a complete genome sequence from DNA, making the techniques applicable to a wide range of crops, even those with complex genomes, such as oilseed rape and wheat. It also enables the development of advanced marker resources for less studied crops that are important for developing countries or have specific medicinal or industrial properties.