Marker assisted selection (MAS) is ‘smart breeding’ or fast track plant breeding technology. It is one tool utilized in breeding companies and research institutes for fast development of improved varieties, giving possibility to select desirable traits more directly using DNA markers. In this review, we discuss the use of MAS in biotic, abiotic, quality and other agronomic traits. Besides, we emphasize the importance of MAS at ICARDA and underline the successful application of MAS in the last 10 years. The use of molecular markers makes the process of selecting parental lines more efficient based on genetic diversity analysis. It can aid the conventional breeding, especially for certain biotic and abiotic traits. Still, MAS contributed very little to the release of improved cultivars with greater tolerance to abiotic stresses, with only few exceptions. MAS was extensively used to improve rice varieties, mainly resistant to bacterial blight and blast disease and was applied in drought tolerance along with GPC (Grain protein content) in quality traits. MAS at ICARDA is used to characterize new parental materials for disease resistance genes as well as in screening advanced lines with a focus on Association mapping and identification of new QTLs. The application of MAS increased in the last decade and used more and more in different crops. However, rice is still the dominant crop in terms of number of publications using MAS.
Keywords: marker assisted selection, plant, biotic stress, abiotic stress, quality, ICARDA