Seed Biotechnology Center
Seed Biotechnology Center
Seed Biotechnology Center
University of California
Seed Biotechnology Center

August eNews

SBC publishes 16th annual report

SBC 15th Annual Report
The SBC is thrilled to announce the release of our 2015 report to celebrate our 16th year. This publication is our largest to date. It outlines our educational, research and public service programs during last year. A special thanks goes to Howard Shapiro for his thoughtful comments. To read, “Strange Bedfellows: The Planet’s Desperate Need for Uncommon Collaborations,” go to the report's final page. If you think of other helpful activities that we can do, please contact Susan DiTomaso at

A special thanks to Julie Tillman for creating this terrific report.


The Kent J. Bradford Endowment
The establishment of the Kent J. Bradford Endowed Chair in Seed Science will provide support for a faculty member at UC Davis who would be focused on seed biology and technology and serve as the director of the Seed Biotechnology Center. The endowment will ensure that the seed industry’s needs for academic research, education and public service can continue to be met in perpetuity.

We are thrilled to highlight recent gifts to the endowment from:

Rijk Zwaan
Enza Zaden

It is with partners like these that will allow us to meet the endowment goal. Thank you Sakata, Rijk Zwaan and Enza Zaden! For more information about the endowment, please see

SolGenomics Conference 2016
We are delighted to announce that the conference registration has met its maximum capacity. On September 12th 350 people from 32 different countries will meet at UC Davis to discuss the lasted activities in Solanaceae research. For more information see

Update: Collaboration for Plant Pathogen Strain Identification (CPPSI)
One year after CPPSI was launched as an industry funded initiative based at US Davis, CPPSI members met with the CPPSI Advisory Council during the June ASTA meetings to discuss the progress made towards completion of year one goals and next steps. Everyone came away agreeing that all goals were met and approved the proposed next steps. The Advisory Council is comprised of representatives from seed company sponsors Bayer, Enza Zaden, HM.Clause, Monsanto, Rijk Zwaan, Sakata and Syngenta. The CPPSI Website, was revised and updated. Since 1 March 2016, 454 users have viewed 960 site pages and 24% are returning viewers. Users from the US, EU, China, Japan, Canada and Finland are accessing information. Since CPPSI first went live in January 2013 through June 2016, 179 differential host sets have been ordered and distributed for research and education purposes. Seed increases, reference strain evaluations and white paper development are under way for the second set of disease systems: Lettuce Downy mildew, Watermelon Fusarium wilt, Tomato TSWV and Pepper TSWV. CPPSI, GEVES MATREF in France and Naktuinbouw (NAKT) in the NL continue to build a strong foundation for cooperation to standardize plant pathogen strain identification in Europe and the US: CPPSI is participating in ‘Harmores 3’, an EU initiative to standardize resistance tests in terms of reference materials (reference isolates and differentiating varieties), test conditions, rating scales. CPPSI will develop parallel differentiating hosts and reference strains for Tomato (Meloidogyne incognita and races of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici) and Melon (Podosphaera xanthii and Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. melonis races 0, 1, and 2 – race 1.2 does not occur in the US. Ring tests with EU participants will be run to establish equivalent resistant and susceptible responses. CPPSI already distributes differentiating host sets and reference pathogen strains for Melon Fusarium wilt. The remaining three systems will be developed as the third set of CPPSI disease systems.

Seed Central/Food Central
Seed Central/Food Central starts the new year on Thursday, September 8th at the UC Davis Conference Center. Join us to learn more about California Safe Soil LLC from founder Daniel Morash who will be joined by UC Davis’ Ed Lewis, Associate Dean of the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and Professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology. 

Plant Breeding Center, UC Davis
To learn about the latest activities at the UC Davis Plant Breeding Center go to:


UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy
The UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy (PBA) Class VI starts in September 2016! The core curriculum will maintain the upgrades from the previous classes and add modules to address the most recent development in plant breeding theory and practice. The core instructor list includes internationally recognized experts in plant breeding and seed technology. They will be supported by a number of guest lecturers from the private industry and academia.

The next session for the European Plant Breeding Academy meets in Gent, Belgium on October 2, 2016. This will be their fourth week of the six-week course. The PBA and SBC would like to thank all of our European partners and presenters, along with the core instructors, that make this one of our most well-received programs.

In September, PBA’s Rale Gjuric will instruct at a program in Novi Sad, Serbia titled, “Advancements in plant breeding, trial design and analysis.” This course is for professionals who are involved in plant breeding and germplasm improvement. The class reached the maximum enrollment and will teach participants from all over the world.

The Plant Breeding Academy program goes to Thailand. A plant breeding training course was organized and is being delivered this week as a collaborative effort between the UC Davis PBA and Limagrain Academy. Thirty-one Limagrain breeders based in China, India, Israel, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam are attending the one week course in Bangkok, Thailand.

PBA core instructors include Rale Gjuric (UC Davis), Idy van Leeuwen (BreedWise), Rita Mumm (University of Illinois), Alexandra Tomerius (AIB), Todd Wehner (North Carolina State University), Allen Van Deynze and Kent Bradford (UC Davis). For more information on the Plant Breeding Academy contact Joy Patterson at or visit

Seed Business 101
The goal of Seed Business 101 (SB101) is to enhance each participant’s career performance and help them avoid costly mistakes. The course is designed to focus on the optimum operations of the five major functional areas of a seed company. The program offers participants a broad understanding of the major aspects of a seed company’s operations and a cross-departmental knowledge of best practices for profitability. The course, offered since fall of 2010, has been attended by more than 400 seed professionals.

Field Crops: Two sessions are scheduled. One will be in Durham, NC USA September 12 – 16, 2016. The second will be in Chicago, IL USA December 2 – 6, 2016 in conjunction with the American Seed Trade Association’s Conference. Core instructors include Tom Francis, Dave Westphal, John Sorenson and Rale Gjuric.

Horticulture: The next class is scheduled on December 5 – 9, 2016 in Davis, CA USA. Lead instructors include Maurice Smith, Pieter Vandenberg and John Sorenson

For more information see or contact Rebeca at

Program Management for Plant Breeders
Program Management for Plant Breeders - September 20-26, 2016, Davis, CA. The course objective is to enhance the management skills of professional scientists who are leading and directing plant breeding and laboratory programs. Lead instructors include industry experts, Fred Bliss, Tom Francois and Rale Gjuric.

For questions or additional information, please contact Sally Mohr at or visit


Breeding with Genomics
Breeding with Genomics was offered on February 16-18, 2016 at UC Davis. 33 participants they came from the US, Canada, Mexico, Turkey, Taiwan and France. Instructors included Allen Van Deynze, Kent Bradford, Amanda Hulse-Kemp, Jorge Dubcovsky, Richard Michelmore, Allison Van Eenennaam (UC Davis), Shawn Yarnes, (Integrated Breeding Platform) and David Francis (The Ohio State University).

Seed Business 101 Horticulture course, Chiang Mai, Thailand
The SBC congratulates the graduates of the first Seed Business 101 Horticulture course held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, February 22-26, 2016.

This session’s included students from Thailand, India, Japan, France, Philippines, Korea, China, Tanzania, and the USA. Course instructors included Maurice Smith, Pieter Vandenberg, and Mike Pereira. Participants also learned from expert guest speakers Anthony Tse, Clover Seeds; Ole Johansen, HM.Clause; Darush Struss and Bruno Lefeuvre, East-West Seed ROH Ltd., and Johan Van Asbrouck, Centor Group.

The SBC would like to recognize Chia Tai Co. Ltd., East-West Seed ROH Ltd., and HM.Clause, Thailand as joint sponsors of the course. Their hospitality was key to the success of this session.

Plant Breeding Academy, Davis, CA, Class V
PBA Class V graduates and SBC hosts our ten-year anniversary celebration. On June 13, 2016 in Davis, California the UC Davis PBA graduated the fifth class. Over last two years, fifteen participants in this class spent more than 300 hours in classes, workshops and the field, training towards the Plant Breeding Academy Certificate. 

This graduation included a special celebration to recognize the PBA’s tenth anniversary. Special guests and alumni joined the event which also recognized Dr. Todd Wehner as a founding instructor who has been with the Academy for ten years teaching in the US, Asia and African courses.

African Plant Breeding Academy, Class II
African Plant Breeding Academy Class II Update. The UC-Davis African Plant Breeding Academy (AfPBA) and the World Agroforestry Centre welcomed Class II to Nairobi on June 20th for the second 2-week session of the 6-week continuing education program. Class II is comprised of 29 PhD- and MS-level plant breeders from 17 countries across the African continent, working in a wide variety of crop species to improve production and nutritional aspects. AfPBA Director, Dr. Rita Mumm, and ICRAF DG, Dr. Tony Simons, opened the session, challenging students to translate knowledge through application into wisdom and to share insights with one another. Building on the foundational principles reviewed in Session 1, Session 2 delved deeper into approaches to multiple trait selection, design of evaluation practices and testing environments, and use of genomic technologies including various applications of molecular markers. Instruction was provided by Professor Iago Hale (University of New Hampshire), Professor Bruce Walsh (University of Arizona), Dr. Allen Van Deynze (University of California, Davis), and Professor Rita Mumm (University of Illinois). Highlights of the session included guest presentations by the CIMMYT Global Maize Program team directed by Dr. B.M. Prasanna, as well as a tour of the CIMMYT Maize Lethal Necrosis Screening Facility at Naivasha, Kenya, managed by Dr. L.M. Suresh. In addition, the student scientists toured the common bean breeding program led by Dr. Paul Kimani at Nairobi University and participated in hands-on exercises guided by Dusty Vyas of LGC Genomics on collection and shipment of plant tissue samples for genotypic analysis. Dr. Oswald Crasta of Dow AgroSciences based at Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, shared insights on Precision Phenotyping, and the Integrated Breeding Program software tools developed by the CGIAR Generation Challenge Program to serve various aspects of crop improvement programs were delivered to student scientists by Dr. Trushar Shah (IITA) and Dr. Nasser Yao (BecA/ILRI). Thus, students received instruction pertaining to principles, with opportunities for practice, and guest speakers provided examples of these principles in action.

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
The African Plant Breeding Academy proudly and gratefully announced new funding support from AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) during this session, which supports 15 students in this class and 15 in the next. Dr. Joe DeVries, AGRA’s Chief Officer of Agricultural Transformation, and Dr. Rufaro Madakadze, Senior Program Officer for AGRA, addressed students to fan dedication to eradicating hunger and under-nutrition in Africa. Furthermore, Dr. Allen Van Deynze, who in addition to serving as an AfPBA instructor also serves on the Steering Committee of the African Orphan Crop Consortium, gratefully accepted a check from Jon and Terase Curtis, who provided funding to support one student in the course.

Class II will conclude with Session 3 in November, 2016, at ICRAF. Applications for Class III will be available soon. For more information contact Sally Mohr at


Seed Central/Food Central
Seed Central/Food Central starts the new year on Thursday, September 8th at the UC Davis Conference Center. Join us to learn more about California Safe Soil LLC from founder Daniel Morash who will be joined by UC Davis’ Ed Lewis, Associate Dean of the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and Professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology.

International Society for Seed Science Conference, 2017
International Society for Seed Science Conference, September 10 – 14, 2017, Monterey, California.

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