Mutation breeding/ mutagenesis
In this application, plants are exposed to irradiation sources with the intent of inducing mutations. A mutation is a change in the genetic material of an organism. Some of these mutations may be deleterious i.e. harmful to the plant resulting in physical or metabolic deformities. Sometimes the mutations result in useful genetic variability. It is thought that thousands of varieties of crops that are on the market today are a result of mutation breeding.
Occasionally, mutations occur spontaneously in the plant resulting in useful genetic variability. An example here is in cauliflower where a natural mutation resulted in Romanesco cauliflower, a yellowish green variety that more closely resembles broccoli. A range of other colours of cauliflower have also been produced through traditional breeding and selection.Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs)
A range of technologies have been Assisted Reproductive Technologies developed and applied in animals. These include:
- Estrous synchronization: This refers to the use of hormones to ensure that female animals in a herd are in heat at the same time. This is often done in preparation for Artificial Insemination.
- Artificial insemination: Semen obtained from a choice bull is introduced into the female. This is sometimes referred to as “bull in a bottle”. The advantage of this is that germplasm from a bull located anywhere in the world can be introduced into the herd without bearing the costs and inconvenience that would be involved in moving the bull physically. In Swaziland, artificial insemination is used in dairy cattle and pigs.
- Embryo transfer: In this case, a superior cow is induced to super-ovulate i.e. produce many eggs. Semen is then introduced to effect fertilization. The resulting embryos are then harvested and possibly frozen for storage before being introduced into surrogate cows.