Money matters (I): costs of field and laboratory procedures associated with conventional and marker-assisted maize breeding at CIMMYT uri icon

abstract

  • This article presents selected results of a study carried out in Mexico at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) to compare the cost-effectiveness of conventional and marker-assisted maize breeding. Costs associated with use of conventional and marker-assisted selection (MAS) methods were estimated using a spreadsheet-based budgeting approach. This information was used to compare the cost of using conventional screening and MAS to achieve a well-defined breeding objective-identification of plants carrying a mutant recessive form of the opaque2 gene in maize that is associated with Quality Protein Maize (QPM). In addition to generating empirical cost information that will be of use to CIMMYT research managers, the study produced four important insights. First, for any given breeding project, detailed budget analysis will be needed to determine the cost-effectiveness of MAS relative to conventional selection. Second, direct comparisons of unit costs for MAS methods and conventional selection methods provide useful information for research managers, but factors other than cost are likely to play an important role in driving the choice of screening methods. Third, the choice between MAS and conventional selection may be complicated by the fact that the two are not always direct substitutes. Fourth, when used with empirical data from actual breeding programs, spreadsheet-based budgeting tools can be used by research managers to improve the efficiency of existing protocols and to inform decisions about future technology choices.

publication date

  • 2003
  • 2003