What are the benefits of Artificial Selection?

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Image of Corn through Artificial Selection

Artificial Selection also known as selective breeding involves modification of plant or animal species by human intervention to make sure those traits which are desirable appear in successive generations. It is possible to manipulate heredity by artificial selection and generate near perfect hybrid variety in plants and animals. Artificial selection is largely explored in experimental biology and for inventing new drugs. Artifical selection has made it possible to produce better varieties of corn, and a variety of vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, kale and collards belonging to the species of Brassicas Oleracea.. The different breeds of dogs and horses are the result of artificial selection.


What is the History of Artificial Selection?

The origin of artificial selection can be traced back to 2,000 years ago as documented in various treatises and was used by the Romans. Later in the 11th century Abu Rayhan Biruni a Persian polymath expressed the idea of artificial selection in his book titled ‘India’ However, it was Charles Darwin who coined the term artificial selection while elaborating on the topic of natural selection. According to Darwin many plants and domestic animals could be developed by intentional breeding from species that had certain desirable traits whereas those individuals having less desirable traits were discouraged from breeding.


What are examples of Artificial Selection?

Artificial selection has made it possible to develop superior breeds of plants and animals. Superior quality of wheat, corn, soybeans have been grown through careful breeding in agriculture. Similarly hybrid varieties of orchids and roses have been cultivated by the process of artificial selection. .Domesticated animals are largely seen as species developed through artificial selection. Among the animals, thoroughbred racehorses are seen as the result of artificial selection. Similarly, selective breeding of pigs, cows, chicken and sheep ensure that we get the best of meat from these animals. Cats and dogs were bred from seemingly ‘wild ancestors’ to the domesticated pets that we have today for companions.


What is the Use of Artificial Selection?

Artificial selection can produce dramatic changes in the field of evolution and agriculture.For example a racehorse having desirable traits is allowed to mate with a healthy female horse in order to ensure that the offspring produced would have the desired excellent racing traits. Similarly, breeding fruits and vegetables of good size and produce together are done with the hope of getting a similar produce. Artificial selection has been used with advantage in agriculture as the selective breeding can significantly alter the end products. Thus it can result in an increased yield of milk by cows and better quality meat of various poultry and cattle.


What are the down sides of Artificial Selection?

Artificial breeding involves intentional breeding to reproduce certain traits desirable in the newly generated breed. Artificial selection essentially lessens the variation in a certain species and as a result the organisms produced selectively are susceptible to any change in the environment and easily succumb to diseases. The perils of inbreeding are many as observed in dogs where the newly produced breeds suffer from various health issues such as hip dysplasia and shorter life span.


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