Germplasm Activity – Utilization
Utilization refers to use of germplasm in crop improvement programmes. The germplasm can be utilized in various ways. The uses of cultivated and wild species of germplasm are briefly discussed below:
The cultivated germplasm can be used in three main ways:
1) As a variety, 2) as a parent in the hybridization, and 3) as a variant in the gene pool. Some germplasm lines can be released directly as varieties after testing. If the performance of an exotic line is better than a local variety, it can be released for commercial cultivation. In some cases, new variety is developed through selection from the collection. Some germplasm lines are not useful as such, but have some special characters, such as disease resistance, good quality of economic produce, or wider adaptability. These characters can be transferred to commercial cultivars by incorporating such germplasm lines in the hybridization programmes. Transfer of desirable character from cultivated germplasm to the commercial cultivars is very easy because of cross compatibility.
The wild germplasm is used to transfer resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, wider adaptability and sometimes quality such as fibre strength in cotton. However, utilization of wild germplasm poses three main problems: viz 1) Hybrid inviability- inability of a hybrid to survive, 2) Hybrid sterility – Inability of a hybrid to produce offspring, and 3) Linkage of undesirable characters with desirable ones. Thus utilization of wild germplasm for crop improvement is a difficult task.