Artificial Selection

One of the first uses of genetic knowledge to improve yields and the quality of plant products was applied to hybrid seed production at the start of the twentieth century by George Shull. Artificial selection today is still done by hobbyists who garden or raise domestic animals. It is done on a more professional level in agriculture and animal breeding. The benefits are enormous. Virtually all commercial animal and plant breeding uses selection to isolate new combinations of traits to meet consumer needs. In these organisms, most of the variation is preexisting in the population or in related populations in the wild. The breeder's task is to combine (hybridize) the right organisms and select offspring with the desired traits.

In the antibiotic industry selection is used to identify new antibiotics. Usually, microorganisms are intentionally mutated to produce variation. Mutations can be induced with a variety of physical and chemical agents called

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