Cotton, the most preferred natural fiber in the world, is the mainstay of global economy for severalcenturies. However, the fiber productivity has reached its plateau in the past decade which forced the research community to develop high-yielding and high quality cotton cultivars. In this genomics era, cotton researches focussed on two aspects: identification of genes for important agronomic traits and manipulation of such genes in view of developing elite cotton cultivar. Despite the complexity of the molecular mechanisms underlying its development, the study of the cotton fiber has become a trait of primary interest besides biotic and abiotic stress resistance. Albeit several strategies, functional genomics approach offers new unprecedented opportunities for identification of complex network of genes involved in fiber productivity and quality. Recent years have witnessed a better understanding of the plethora of genes affecting cotton fibre. Molecular, cellular and developmental changes related to fiber development have been identified through high-throughput EST projects and microarray analysis coupled with cotemporary biological tools. Despite impressive progress, the genomics and postgenomics revolution will be applicable in plant breeding only when they can elucidate the relationship between variation in phenotypic traits and the variation in gene sequences and/or expression. To this end, there is an immediate demand for integration of disciplines such as structural genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and bioinformatics with plant physiology and breeding. Integration of
multidisciplinary approaches is indispensable in upcoming cotton improvement programs since cotton is an important renewable resource that needs to be preserved for future generations.
Key words: Cotton fibre, expressed sequence tags, functional genomics, microarray, transcriptomics.