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Plant Breeding Academy
Plant Breeding Academy
Plant Breeding Academy
University of California
Plant Breeding Academy

Instructors and Curriculum

The UC Davis European Plant Breeding Academy is designed to balance lectures, discussions, workshops and field trips with commercial breeders to enhance the experience across breeding systems, crops and countries.

Primary Instructors: Rale Gjuric (UC Davis), Idy van Leeuwen (BreedWise), Rita Mumm (University of Illinois), Alexandra Tomerius (AIB), Allen Van Deynze (UC Davis), Kent Bradford (UC Davis), Robert Dirks (Rijk Zwaan)

Guest Instructors (partial list): Bruce Walsh (University of Arizona), Roger Chetelat (UC Davis), Charles Brummer (UC Davis)

Contribution by numerous scientists and breeders in host countries (partial list here)

The curriculum is being developed by instructors with input from industry leaders. The following topics will be covered during each course:

Introduction to plant breeding

Plant breeding objectives

Germplasm resources

Crop evolution

Reproductive systems



Analysis of variance

Mean separations

Linear regression

Analysis of covariance

Experimental designs


Transmission genetics

Population genetics (HW, selection, migration, mutation)


Quantitative genetics model

Breeding value

Covariance among relatives

Theory of heterosis

Selection theory


Principles of selection and the gain equation

Extension to relevant selection models

Recombination and population development

Selection limits

Effective population size

Linkage drag

Fixing favorable alleles


Interspecific hybridization

Selection methods

Single trait selection: mass selection, line selection, multiple stage selection

Multiple trait selection: independent culling, tandem selection, selection indices

Indirect selection methods: theory

Linkage disequilibrium

Indirect selection methods: conventional breeding

Establishing and monitoring goals and priorities

Population improvement vs cultivar development

Minimum standards, intermediate optima, and directional response

Breeding methods

Line Breeding: bulk, pedigree, backcross

Population improvement

Inbred line development

Evaluating hybrids and combining ability

Breeding with Molecular Markers

Bases and availability of markers

Population structure

Parental selection



Marker assisted selection and backcrossing

Genomic selection

Genotype by environment interactions

GxE and decisions in population development

Genetic correlation: treatment of GxE

Selection environment: single vs multiple environments

Designs to control GxE

Variance component analysis

Breeding systems

Breeding for hybrids

Genetic control of pollination: sex expression, self-incompatibility, male sterility

Breeding cultivars

Breeding clones

Breeding populations (synthetics)

Resistance breeding



Abiotic stress

Special topics

Mutation breeding

Biotechnology (transgenic)

Reverse breeding

Mechanization in plant breeding

Counter season nurseries

High throughput phenotyping

Data management

Finishing varieties

Cultivars vs hybrids

Protecting varieties and intellectual property

Seed certification

Seed production, biology and quality

Advanced module (optional)

Multivariate selection

Linear and mixed models


Advanced genomic selection

Advanced experimental designs


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