Overview & Curriculum

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Overview:

The Seed Biotechnology Center at the University of California, Davis has organized a professional development course to teach the principles of plant breeding to seed industry personnel. This two-year course addresses the reduced numbers of plant breeders being trained in academic programs. Participants meet at UC Davis for six sessions over two years. Readings and exercises continue between sessions online to allow participants to maintain their current positions while being involved in the course. 

Course goal: This course develops the skills and abilities of current industry personnel to enable them to become independent breeders or more valuable contributors to larger breeding programs.

Who should attend? The course is targeted toward personnel currently involved in plant breeding programs who lack the academic background in genetics theory and practice to advance as independent breeders. Current breeders who desire a refresher course or would like to broaden their expertise would also be potential participants.

Curriculum:

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

Introduction to plant breeding

  • Plant breeding objectives
  • Germplasm resources and pools
  • Crop evolution
  • Reproductive systems

Statistics

  • Distributions and Probabilities
  • Mean separation, t-tests
  • Sources of variation
  • Analysis of variance
  • Multiple mean separations
  • Advanced designs: unbalanced, non-replicated and augmented

Genetics

  • Transmission genetics
  • Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium
  • Inbreeding coefficients
  • Quantitative genetics model
  • Inbreeding depression and hybrid vigor

Selection theory

  • Principles of selection and the gain equation
  • Heritability and extensions to relevant selection models
  • Use of block corrections in selection

Recombination and population development

  • Selection limits
  • Linkage drag
  • Recombination in inbred lines and populations
  • Polyploidy
  • Interspecific hybridization
  • Population size

Establishing and monitoring goals and priorities

  • Population improvement vs cultivar development
  • Minimum standards, intermediate optima, and directional response

Breeding methods 1

  • Line Breeding: bulk, pedigree, backcross

Selection methods 1

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

Breeding methods 2

  • Population improvement
  • Inbred line development
  • Evaluating hybrids and combining ability

Selection methods 2

  • Multiple trait selection: independent culling, tandem selection,  selection indices
  • Indirect selection methods: theory
  • Linkage disequilibrium
  • Indirect selection methods: conventional breeding

Breeding with Molecular Markers

  • Bases and availability of markers
  • Population structure
  • Parental selection
  • QTL
  • Bioinformatics/Databases
  • Marker assisted selection and backcrossing
  • Genome assisted breeding

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

  • Diseases
  • Insects
  • Abiotic stress

Special topics

  • Mutation breeding
  • Biotechnology (transgenic)
  • Mechanization
  • Off season nurseries
  • Data management

Finishing varieties

  • Cultivars vs hybrids
  • Protecting varieties and intellectual property.

 

If you have specific questions about the PBA curriculum, please reach out to Education Director, Jovan Djordjevic at jdjordjevic@ucdavis.edu 

If you have further questions about PBA in Davis or if you have trouble with your application, contact Whitney Lowe at wlowe@ucdavis.edu

 

To learn more about PBA in Davis, Europe or Africa, click the links below:

PBA in Davis

PBA in Europe

PBA in Africa