Molecular Breeding

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 221–234 | Cite as

Money matters (I): costs of field and laboratory procedures associated with conventional and marker-assisted maize breeding at CIMMYT

  • Kate Dreher
  • Mireille Khairallah
  • Jean-Marcel Ribaut
  • Michael Morris


This article presents selected results of a study carried out in Mexico at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) to compare the cost-effectiveness of conventional and marker-assisted maize breeding. Costs associated with use of conventional and marker-assisted selection (MAS) methods were estimated using a spreadsheet-based budgeting approach. This information was used to compare the cost of using conventional screening and MAS to achieve a well-defined breeding objective—identification of plants carrying a mutant recessive form of the opaque2 gene in maize that is associated with Quality Protein Maize (QPM). In addition to generating empirical cost information that will be of use to CIMMYT research managers, the study produced four important insights. First, for any given breeding project, detailed budget analysis will be needed to determine the cost-effectiveness of MAS relative to conventional selection. Second, direct comparisons of unit costs for MAS methods and conventional selection methods provide useful information for research managers, but factors other than cost are likely to play an important role in driving the choice of screening methods. Third, the choice between MAS and conventional selection may be complicated by the fact that the two are not always direct substitutes. Fourth, when used with empirical data from actual breeding programs, spreadsheet-based budgeting tools can be used by research managers to improve the efficiency of existing protocols and to inform decisions about future technology choices.

Crop improvement Economics Marker-assisted selection QPM Zea mays


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. CIMMYT 2001. The Applied Biotechnology Center's Manual of Laboratory Protocols. 3rd edn. CIMMYT, Mexico, DF.Google Scholar
  2. Clarke B.C., Moran L.B. and Appels R. 1989. DNA analyses in wheat breeding. Genome 32: 334–339.Google Scholar
  3. Crouch J.H. 2000. Molecular marker-assisted breeding: A perspective for small to medium-sized plant breeding companies. In: Conference paper. Asian Seed 2000: Seventh Annual Conference of the Asia & Pacific Seed Association. September 25- 28, Bangalore, India.Google Scholar
  4. Helentjaris T., Slocum M., Wright S., Schaefer A. and Nienhuis J. 1986. Construction of genetic linkage maps in maize and tomato using restriction fragment length polymorphisms. Theor. Appl. Genet. 72: 761–769.Google Scholar
  5. Lee M. 1995. DNA markers and plant breeding programs. Adv. Agron. 55: 265–344.Google Scholar
  6. Mertz E.T., Bates L.S. and Nelson O.E. 1964. Mutant that changes protein composition and increases lysine content of maize endosperm. Science 145: 279–280.Google Scholar
  7. Mohan M., Nair S., Bhagwat A., Krishna T.G., Yano M., Bhatia C.R. et al. 1997. Genome mapping, molecular markers and marker-assisted selection in crop plants. Mol. Breed. 3: 87–103.Google Scholar
  8. Moreau L., Lemarie S., Charcosset A. and Gallais A. 2000. Economic efficiency on one cycle of marker-assisted selection. Crop. Sci. 40: 329–337.Google Scholar
  9. Morris M.L., Ribaut J.-M., Dreher K. and Khairallah M. 2003. Money matters (II): Costs of maize inbred line conversion schemes at CIMMYT using conventional and marker-assisted selection. Mol. Breed., this issue.Google Scholar
  10. Ragot M. and Hoisington D.A. 1993. Molecular markers for plant breeding: comparisons of RFLP and RAPD genotyping costs. Theor. Appl. Genet. 86: 975–984.Google Scholar
  11. Ragot M., Biasiolli M., Delbut M.F., Dell'orco A., Margarini L., Thevenin P. et al. 1995. Marker-assisted backcrossing: a practical example. In: Techniques et utilisations des marqueurs moléculaires, Les Colloques, No.72. INRA, Paris, pp. 45–46.Google Scholar
  12. Ragot M., Gay G., Muller J.-P. and Duroway J. 2000. Efficient selection for adaptation to the environment through QTL mapping and manipulation in maize. In: Ribaut J.-M. and Poland D. (eds), Molecular Approaches for the Genetic Improvement of Cereals for Stable Production in Water-Limited Environments. A Strategic Planning Workshop held at CIMMYT, El Batán, Mexico, 21- 25 June 1999. CIMMYT, Mexico, DF, Mexico, pp. 128–130.Google Scholar
  13. Ribaut J.-M., Hu X., Hoisington D.A. and González-de-Leó n D. 1997. Use of STSs and SSRs as rapid and reliable preselection tools in a marker assisted selection backcross scheme. Plant Mol. Biol. Rep. 15: 154–162.Google Scholar
  14. Ribaut J.-M. and Hoisington D.A. 1998. Marker-assisted selection: New tools and strategies. Trends in Plant Science 3: 236–239.Google Scholar
  15. Ribaut J.-M., Edmeades G.O., Betrán F.J., Jiang C. and Bänziger M. 1999. Marker-assisted selection for improving drought tol-erance in tropical maize. In: O'Toole J. and Hardy B. (eds), Proceedings International Workshop on Genetic Improvement forWater-Limited Environments, IRRI, Los Bañ os, Philippines, 1- 3 December 1998. IRRI, Los Bañ os, Philippines, pp. 193–209.Google Scholar
  16. Ribaut J.-M., Jiang C. and Hoisington D. 2002. Simulation experiments on efficiencies of gene introgression by backcrossing. Crop. Sc. 42: 557–565.Google Scholar
  17. Schmidt R.J., Burr F.A., Aukerman M.J. and Burr B. 1990. Maize regulatory gene opaque2 encodes a protein with a ″leucine-zipper ″ motif that binds to zein DNA. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 87: 46–50.Google Scholar
  18. Sun Y., Carneiro N., Clore A.M., Moro G.L., Habben J.E. and Larkin B.A. 1997. Characterization of maize Elongation Factor 1A and its relationship to protein quality in the endosperm. Plant Phys. 115: 1101–1107.Google Scholar
  19. Tanksley S.D., Grandillo S., Fulton T.M., Zamir D., Eshed Y., Petiard V. et al. 1996. Advanced backcross QTL analysis in a cross between an elite processing line of tomato and its wild relative L. pimpinellifolium. Theor. Appl. Genet. 92: 213–224.Google Scholar
  20. Vasal S.K. 1994. High quality protein corn. In: Hallauer A.R. (ed.), Specialty Corns. CRC, Boca Raton, Florida, USA.Google Scholar
  21. Weber J.L. and May P.E. 1989. Abundant class of human DNA polymorphisms which can be typed using the polymerase chain reaction. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 44: 388–396.Google Scholar
  22. Young N.D. 1999. A cautiously optimistic vision for marker-assisted breeding. Mol. Breed. 5: 505–510.Google Scholar
  23. Yu K., Park S.J. and Poysa V. 2000. Marker-assisted selection of common beans for resistance to common bacterial blight: efficacy and economics. Plant Breed. 119: 411–415.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Dreher
    • 1
  • Mireille Khairallah
    • 1
  • Jean-Marcel Ribaut
    • 1
  • Michael Morris
    • 1
  1. 1.International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)MexicoMexico

Personalised recommendations