The global demand for food is rising due to population growth, climate change, and evolving consumer preferences. Traditional plant breeding programs typically require a decade or more to develop and release new crop varieties. Speed breeding is a cutting-edge technique designed to expedite genetic improvement by significantly reducing the seed-to-seed cycle. This review explores the principles, applications, and potential of this method in accelerating agricultural advancement. Originating from NASA's experiments for food production in space, the approach has evolved into a highly efficient strategy for speeding up breeding cycles in cereal crops. By manipulating light, photoperiodic regimes, temperature, and humidity within controlled environments, it is possible to achieve up to six generations of photo-insensitive crops and two to three generations of other crops per year. This rapid generation turnover provides a unique opportunity for accelerated genetic mapping, trait stacking, and enhanced genomic selection. Speed breeding complements modern breeding technologies such as genome editing, high-throughput genotyping, and CRISPR, facilitating quicker development of crop varieties with improved traits. Its applications extend to boosting transgenic pipelines and understanding critical physiological traits in crops. Furthermore, it aligns with breeding methods like single plant selection and single seed descent, offering a more efficient path to desirable outcomes. However, challenges remain, including the need for specialized infrastructure, the impact of genotypic variations, and potential stress responses due to accelerated conditions. Despite these hurdles, speed breeding represents a promising tool in the quest for food security and resilient agricultural systems. This review examines its potential to transform plant breeding, reduce cultivar development times, and contribute to rapid agricultural advancement in a changing world.

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