What are designer crops and explain how these can be developed?

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Designer crop is the marker-assisted selection method is a faster way to improve crop quality to help raise yields. Unlike their genetically modified (GM) cousins, which are in various stages of field and lab trials in the country, these crops employ a middle-of-the-road approach called the marker-assisted selection (MAS) method.

In GM crops, foreign genes from a different species are artificially inserted into a crop. MAS, on the other hand, is a fast-forwarded version of the traditional method of improving crop quality, which involves selecting a few ideal specimen of a crop and repeatedly crossing these till they
yield crops with the desired characteristics.

The traditional approach is time-consuming and, in some cases, a trait can be suitably expressed only after hundreds of crossings. In MAS, scientists use a technique called gene sequencing, by which they have been able to identify all the genes that make up certain crops, and importantly the markers- stray pieces of DNA-that tag along.

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By using the tools of modern molecular biology, scientists are now able to introduce genes or chemical recipes for making proteins, into plants for the ‘specific’ traits they want. Since biotech revolution is happening in other parts of the world. In recent years, agricultural communities in the US Argentina, Canada, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, and China have adopted new plant varieties developed through modern technologies, or what are called transgenic or genetically- modified crops.

Examples include herbicide-resistant plants created by transforming them with % ‘natural’ bacterial enzyme, and insect-resistant plants created by the addition of genes for one of the proteins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a type soil ‘naturally occurring’ soil bacterium that infects and kills insects.

Several major crop plants, including corn, oilseed canola, soybean, and cotton have been engineered with genes, that make them resistant to insects, pests or to herbicides, so that farmers can apply the weed killer without fear of wiping out their budding crops. The benefits derived from these varieties include the reduced use of insecticides and herbicides, thus reducing soil and groundwater pollution, and reduced tillage that results in topsoil loss.

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