Plant breeding is focused on continuously increasing crop production to meet the needs of an ever-growing world population, improving food quality to ensure a long and healthy life and address the problems of global warming and environment pollution, together with the challenges of developing novel sources of biofuels. The breeders' search for novel genetic combinations, with which to select plants with improved traits to satisfy both farmers and consumers, is endless. About half of the dramatic increase in crop yield obtained in the second half of the last century has been achieved thanks to the results of genetic improvement, while the residual advance has been due to the enhanced management techniques (pest and disease control, fertilization, and irrigation). Biotechnologies provide powerful tools for plant breeding, and among these ones, tissue culture, particularly haploid and doubled haploid technology, can effectively help to select superior plants. In fact, haploids (Hs), which are plants with gametophytic chromosome number, and doubled haploids (DHs), which are haploids that have undergone chromosome duplication, represent a particularly attractive biotechnological method to accelerate plant breeding. Currently, haploid technology, making possible through gametic embryogenesis the single-step development of complete homozygous lines from heterozygous parents, has already had a huge impact on agricultural systems of many agronomically important crops, representing an integral part in their improvement programmes. The aim of this review was to provide some background, recent advances, and future prospective on the employment of haploid technology through gametic embryogenesis as a powerful tool to support plant breeding.
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