PBA in Davis

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Davis Class IX


PBA Overview:

The Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis has pioneered the Plant Breeding Academy, a program designed and tailored for seed industry personnel. It provides a rare opportunity to develop talents within the Seed Industry. This Academy offers a unique curriculum that matches and exceeds the depth and breadth of a traditional Ph.D., as it is solely dedicated to the field of Plant Breeding and is taught by experienced plant breeders. This program specifically addresses the limited availability of trained plant breeders emerging from academic programs. Through initiatives like the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy, seed associations such as ASTA, Euroseeds, and their member companies actively support a dynamic ecosystem that promotes ongoing learning, collaboration, and the relentless pursuit of excellence in the field of plant breeding. Since 2006, the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy has graduated more than 400 students, making a significant contribution to driving innovation and meeting the evolving challenges of plant breeding. Over two years, participants engage in six immersive sessions in Davis, California (USA) at UC Davis campus with exterior visits of seed companies, research centers and collaborative programs.

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.

Class Location & Dates:

All six sessions of the PBA IX course will take place in Davis, California, on the UC Davis campus or nearby if necessary. This schedule will allow participants to maintain their current employment while enrolled in the course. In-person attendance at all six sessions is required to graduate. Each session is 5-6 days in length and subject to change if needed to fit in the planned curriculum. 

PBA IX Dates:

Year 1
February 5 - 10, 2024
May 20 - 25, 2024
September 9 - 14, 2024

Year 2
February 3 - 8, 2025
May 5 - 10, 2025
September 8 - 12, 2025

(These dates are confirmed but subject to change)

Application & Tuition:

Application Process: To provide a personalized learning environment, the program is limited to 20 participants. Applicants should complete the online application and upload their resume in order to be considered for enrollment. Applicants' background and experience will be reviewed to ensure they meet the minimal requirements before acceptance. Applicants must have a Bachelor of Science degree (or demonstrate equivalent professional experience) and have taken introductory courses in statistics and genetics. Practical experience, academic standing (GPA or equivalent) and rationale for participation in the Academy will be evaluated. Among applicants meeting the program requirements, acceptance will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Acceptance is not secured until paperwork is signed and the deposit is received.

The early registration discount ($1,000 off) is available for applications received prior to September 1, 2023.

Tuition: (All pricing is in United States Dollar) Tuition is $26,000 per participant for the two-year program (or $25,000 if you apply before the early registration deadline). Tuition includes all course materials, instruction and administrative fees.  Lunches and breaks during sessions in Davis are provided.  Travel, accommodations and other meals during in-residence sessions are not included.  A non-refundable deposit of $1,000 will be due within 30 days of acceptance into the Academy.

An invoice requesting the balance of the first year's tuition (half of the total tuition, after the deposit is paid) will be sent and must be paid prior to the start of the course. The second tuition payment will be due prior to the start of the second year. Exact due dates will be listed on your invoice document. No refunds will be issued after a payment is made. Payment procedures will be provided to applicants following acceptance into the Academy.

PBA Instructors & Curriculum:

Instructors: Primary instructors will teach the core of the course and speakers who are specialists in specific topics will be invited. All are recognized leaders in their fields.

Primary Instructors:

  • Dr. Kendra Armstrong, 42 Ag Genetics, LLC
  • Dr. Jay Patel, former Research Fellow, Corteva
  • Dr. Jose Luis Rodriguez Gil
  • Dr. Kent Bradford, UC Davis
  • Dr. Allen Van Deynze, UC Davis
  • Dr. Jovan Djordjevic, UC Davis

Learn More About the PBA Instructors

Guest Instructors (partial list):

  • Dr. Edwardo Blumwald, UC Davis
  • Dr. Roger Chetelat, UC Davis
  • Dr. Luca Comai, UC Davis
  • Jaap Hoogstraten
  • Dr. Kidist Kibret, University of Manitoba
  • Dr. Ken Owens
  • Dr. David Stelly, Texas A&M University


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


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


  • 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 

PBA Graduation:

Students who successfully complete all six weeks of the PBA program will receive a certificate of completion at the end of Week 6. Successful completion of the PBA program includes attending all six weeks in person (any attendance exceptions must be approved by PBA Director in advance), receiving passing grades on all homework assignments and final projects, as graded by PBA instructors. Certificates will be printed for the Graduation Ceremony event and PDF versions are also available upon request.


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

Or check out our FAQ page!


The PBA IX Application has closed. Contact Whitney Lowe at wlowe@ucdavis.edu with any questions or stay tuned for the PBA X Application, scheduled to open by early 2025.