Mass Selection: Fundamental Principle in Breeding

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What is the main goal of mass selection?

To select and breed individuals with desirable traits

Who originated the idea of mass selection?

Sir Francis Galton

How did Sir Francis Galton contribute to the field of eugenics?

By observing that desirable traits are consistent in families

What can be achieved through selective breeding in agriculture and animal husbandry?

Increasing the frequency of desirable traits in future generations

Why is mass selection considered a cornerstone of selective breeding?

Because it helps amplify desirable traits in offspring

In which field was the concept of mass selection refined and applied more productively?

Agriculture and animal breeding

What principle does mass selection take advantage of?


Why does mass selection lead to genetic convergence in a population?

By increasing the frequency of selected desirable traits over generations

What is a limitation of mass selection in breeding programs?

Slow process requiring multiple generations

What is the term for the phenomenon where undesirable traits increase due to excessive related breeding?

Inbreeding depression

Apart from mass selection, what other technique has been developed to improve breeding efficiency?

Marker-assisted selection

What role has mass selection played in the development of modern agriculture and animal breeding?

Cornerstone and key factor

Study Notes

Mass Selection: Understanding the Concept

Mass selection isn't a term you'll find in everyday conversation, but it's a fundamental principle that shapes the development of species and agriculture. In essence, mass selection refers to the process of choosing and breeding individuals from a population that display desirable traits, with the goal of passing those traits on to future generations.

A Brief History

The idea of mass selection originated with the English naturalist and polymath Sir Francis Galton, who observed that desirable traits consistently resurfaced in families. He theorized that by selecting and breeding individuals with such traits, the desired characteristics could be amplified within the population. Galton's observations laid the groundwork for the field of eugenics, but his approach to mass selection was later refined and applied more productively in agriculture and animal breeding.

Agriculture and Animal Breeding

Mass selection has long been a cornerstone of selective breeding in agriculture and animal husbandry. By identifying plants or animals with desirable traits and breeding them together, breeders can produce offspring with those traits at a higher frequency in the population. For instance, selectively breeding cows with exceptional milk production, or corn plants that are highly resistant to pests, leads to future generations that are more likely to exhibit the same traits.

Genetic Basis

Mass selection takes advantage of the fundamental principles of genetics. The traits we observe in organisms are determined by the genes they inherit from their parents. When breeding individuals with desirable traits, the frequency of those traits within the population increases over time. This process can lead to genetic convergence, where the population begins to resemble the initial traits selected for.


Although mass selection has been a valuable tool in agricultural and animal breeding, it does have limitations. For one, mass selection can be a slow process, taking multiple generations to produce noticeable changes in the population. Additionally, mass selection can lead to a phenomenon called inbreeding depression, where the frequency of undesirable traits increases as a result of excessive related breeding. This can reduce the overall physical and genetic health of the population.

Modern Applications

Mass selection has long been a cornerstone of selective breeding and has been a key factor in the development of modern agriculture, animal breeding, and plant cultivation. However, it is not without its limitations, and in modern times, other techniques, such as marker-assisted selection, genomic selection, and directed breeding, have been developed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the mass selection process.

In summary, mass selection is a fundamental concept in biology, agriculture, and animal breeding. By selecting and breeding individuals with desirable traits, breeders can increase the frequency of these traits in future generations. Although mass selection has its limitations, it remains a valuable tool in the development of modern agriculture, animal breeding, and plant cultivation.

Learn about mass selection, a crucial concept in biology, agriculture, and animal breeding. Discover how breeders choose individuals with desirable traits to pass on to future generations, and explore the genetic basis behind this fundamental practice.

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