Implementing breeding software is what I do. My team and I meet plant breeders from around the world, talking different languages and working with different crops. However, they all have something in common: they all have similar challenges.
When it is time to evaluate their trials, many breeders wonder why they chose specific plants over others. What traits should they have? Are they better or worse compared to last generation? When evaluating many different traits, it’s not easy to know which trait to focus on or how to select a particular plant. To add to the confusion, sometimes the differences between plants in a breeding population are small and the plants all look similar at first sight.
Displaying all the relevant data from previous seasons is a challenge. A regular tabular view provides only two-dimensional data: genotypes and their traits. Seeing also the pedigree information adds a third dimension, allowing breeders to view previous/future generations’ data. We refer to this as the “3D nature of the pedigree.” Gathering three dimensions provides a complete overview of the phenotyping. Without the ability to do this, breeders struggle to remember why they included particular plants into their breeding programs, resulting in an inconsistent and inefficient process.
In short, breeders want to see the right data in the right place at the right time. Good breeding software makes this much easier. Dedicated software will “know” how to capture and display the pedigree correctly to allow breeders to compare data from previous seasons or other locations. Moreover, good software automatically calculates inheritance rules for disease resistance in next generations to show which genotype is resistant to which trait.
Another aspect of a good breeding system is its ability to automatically provide naming conventions to new materials based on a predefined template. Here is one of many possibilities to build a template for the genotype’s unique code:
<year>-<season>-<location>-<generation>-<plot number>-<selected plant number> (i.e. 18AU-Rh-F4-350-4).
Naming conventions for other passport data columns, such as pedigree name or generation, can also be automatically and correctly updated. These little best-practice tricks make information management more effective.
After all, the main intellectual property of a breeding program is not only the seeds, but also the data associated with it. A professional breeding software program is crucial for saving intellectual property, but most of all, for utilizing it efficiently.