Genome science has emerged unequivocally as the leading discipline of this new millennium. Progress in molecular biology during the last century has provided critical inputs for building a solid foundation for this discipline. However, it has gained fast momentum particularly in the last two decades with the advent of genetic linkage mapping with RFLP markers in humans in 1980. Since then it has been flourishing at a stupendous pace with the development of newly emerging tools and techniques. All these events are due to the concerted global efforts directed at the delineation of genomes and their improvement.
Genetic linkage maps based on molecular markers are now available for almost all plants of significant academic and economic interest, and the list of plants is growing regularly. A large number of economic genes have been mapped, tagged, cloned, sequenced, or characterized for expression and are being used for genetic tailoring of plants through molecular breeding. An array of markers in the arsenal from RFLP to SNP; tools such as BAC, YAC, ESTs, and microarrays; local physical maps of target genomic regions; and the employment of bioinformatics contributing to all the "-omics" disciplines are making the journey more and more enriching. Most naturally, the plants we commonly grow on our farms, forests, orchards, plantations, and labs have attracted emphatic attention, and deservedly so. The two-way shuttling from phenotype to genotype (or gene) and genotypte (gene) to phenotype has made the canvas much vaster. One could have easily compiled the vital information on genome mapping in economic plants within some 50 pages in the 1980s or within 500 pages in the 1990s. In the middle of the first decade of this century, even 5,000 pages would not suffice! Clearly genome mapping is no longer a mere "promising" branch of the life science; it has emerged as a full-fledged subject in its own right with promising branches of its own. Sequencing of the Arabidopsis genome was complete in 2000. The early 21st century witnessed the complete genome sequence of rice. Many more plant genomes are waiting in the wings of the national and international genome initiatives on individual plants or families.
The huge volume of information generated on genome analysis and improvement is dispersed mainly throughout the pages of periodicals in the form of review papers or scientific articles. There is a need for a ready reference for students and scientists alike that could provide more than just a glimpse of the present status of genome analysis and its use for genetic improvement. I personally felt the gap sorely when I failed to suggest any reference works to students and colleagues interested in the subject. This is the primary reason I conceived of a series on genome mapping and molecular breeding in plants.
There is not a single organism on earth that has no economic worth or concern for humanity. Information on genomes of lower organisms is abundant and highly useful from academic and applied points of view. Information on higher animals including humans is vast and useful. However, we first thought to concentrate only on the plants relevant to our daily lives, the agronomic, horticultural and technical crops, and forest trees, in the present series. We will come up soon with commentaries on food and fiber animals, wildlife and companion animals, laboratory animals, fishes and aquatic animals, beneficial and harmful insects,
VI Preface to the Series plant- and animal-associated microbes, and primates including humans in our next "genome series" dedicated to animals and microbes. In this series, 82 chapters devoted to plants or their groups have been included. We tried to include most of the plants in which significant progress has been made. We have also included preliminary works on some so-called minor and orphan crops in this series. We would be happy to include reviews on more such crops that deserve immediate national and international attention and support. The extent of coverage in terms of the number of pages, however, has nothing to do with the relative importance of aplant or plantgroup. Nor doesthesequenceofthe chaptershave anycorrelationto the importance of the plants discussed in the volumes. A simple rule of convenience has been followed.
I feel myself fortunate to have received highly positive responses from nearly 300 scientists of some 30-plus countries who contributed the chapters for this series. Scientists actively involved in analyzing and improving particular genomes contributed each and every chapter. I thank them all profoundly. I made a conscientious effort to assemble the best possible team of authors for certain chapters devoted to the important plants. In general, the lead authors of most chapters organized their teams. I extend my gratitude to them all.
The number of plants of economic relevance is enormous. They are classified from various angles. I have presented them using the most conventional approach. The volumes thus include cereals and millets (Volume I), oilseeds (Volume II), pulse, sugar and tuber crops (Volume III), fruits and nuts (Volume IV), vegetables (Volume V), technical crops including fiber and forage crops, ornamentals, plantation crops, and medicinal and aromatic plants (Volume VI), and forest trees (Volume VII).
A significant amount of information might be duplicated across the closely related species or genera, particularly where results of comparative mapping have been discussed. However, some readers would have liked to have had a chapter on a particular plant or plant group complete in itself. I ask all the readers to bear with me for such redundancy.
Obviously the contents and coverage of different chapters will vary depending on the effort expended and progress achieved. Some plants have received more attention for advanced works. We have included only introductory reviews on fundamental aspects on them since reviews in these areas are available elsewhere. On other plants, including the "orphan" crop plants, a substantial amount of information has been included on the basic aspects. This approach will be reflected in the illustrations as well.
It is mainly my research students and professional colleagues who sparked my interest in conceptualizing and pursuing this series. If this series serves its purpose, then the major credit goes to them. I would never have ventured to take up this huge task of editing without their constant support. Working and interacting with many people, particularly at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar, India as its founder principal investigator; the Indo-Russian Center for Biotechnology, Allahabad, India as its first project coordinator; the then-USSR Academy of Sciences in Moscow; the University of Wisconsin at Madison; and The Pennsylvania State University, among institutions, and at EMBO, EUCARPIA, and Plant and Animal Genome meetings among the scientific gatherings have also inspired me and instilled confidence in my ability to accomplish this job.
I feel very fortunate for the inspiration and encouragement I have received from many dignified scientists from around the world, particularly Prof. Arthur
Kornberg, Prof. Franklin W. Stahl, Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, Dr. David V. Goeddel, Prof. Phillip A. Sharp, Prof. Gunter Blobel, and Prof. Lee Hartwell, who kindly opined on the utility of the series for students, academicians, and industry scientists of this and later generations. I express my deep regards and gratitude to them all for providing inspiration and extending generous comments.
I have been especially blessed by God with an affectionate student community and very cordial research students throughout my teaching career. I am thankful to all of them for their regards and feelings for me. I am grateful to all my teachers and colleagues for the blessings, assistance, and affection they showered on me throughout my career at various levels and places. I am equally indebted to the few critics who helped me to become professionally sounder and morally stronger.
My wife Phullara and our two children Sourav and Devleena have been of great help to me, as always, while I was engaged in editing this series. Phullara has taken pains ("pleasure" she would say) all along to assume most of my domestic responsibilities and to allow me to devote maximum possible time to my professional activities, including editing this series. Sourav and Devleena have always shown maturity and patience in allowing me to remain glued to my PC or "printed papers" ("P3" as they would say). For this series, they assisted me with Internet searches, maintenance of all hard and soft copies, and various timely inputs.
Some figures included by the authors in their chapters were published elsewhere previously. The authors have obtained permission from the concerned publishers or authors to use them again for their chapters and expressed due acknowledgement. However, as an editor I record my acknowledgements to all such publishers and authors for their generosity and good will.
I look forward to your valuable criticisms and feedback for further improvement of the series.
Publishing a book series like this requires diligence, patience, and understanding on the part of the publisher, and I am grateful to the people at Springer for having all these qualities in abundance and for their dedication to seeing this series through to completion. Their professionalism and attention to detail throughout the entire process of bringing this series to the reader made them a genuine pleasure to work with. Any enjoyment the reader may derive from this books is due in no small measure to their efforts.
Pennsylvania, 10 January 2006
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