Strategies of plant breeding for improved rumen function

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In general, breeding programmes directed at the improvement of forage have concentrated on easily measurable phenotypes such as yield, digestibility, resistance to lodging, etc. Selection programmes have improved forage production but historically have addressed relatively few quality considerations. In addition, selection for quality has been limited by availability of suitable analytical techniques. With the current emphasis on quality rather than quantity and the desire by the public for greater understanding about where their food comes from, quality considerations should be a greater target in future breeding programmes. This review briefly covers previous improvements in quality of grazed and silage forages and considers how new technologies might be employed to realise targets for future improvements. In particular we address the concept that interactions between rumen micro-organisms and ingested plant material in the rumen are not static but are in fact dynamic. This has implications for post-ingestion biology and feed utilisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Applied Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Forage
  • quality
  • plant breeding
  • ruminant nutrition
  • selection
  • gene mapping


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