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

December 2017 eNews

December eNews

The SBC wishes you a wonderful holiday and warm wishes in the new year

The SBC wishes you a wonderful holiday and warm wishes in the new year!


Early-Bird registration deadline extended for Breeding with Genomics course, being held in February at UC Davis

Early-Bird registration deadline extended for Breeding with Genomics course, being held in February at UC Davis
This popular course is aimed at professionals who are directly or indirectly involved in plant breeding and germplasm improvement. It is an opportunity for breeders who are already using these tools to expand their knowledge of new strategies and technologies and for laboratory personnel to appreciate how the marker data that they generate are applied in breeding programs. A hands-on workshop is included, focusing on software support to marker application in breeding programs including R and Best Linear Unbiased Prediction (BLUPs). The class covers the basics of DNA markers, quantitative trait loci, association studies and genomic selection. The core instructors are Allen Van Deynze and Richard Michelmore, UC Davis, and David Francis, The Ohio State University. They will be joined by number of experts in application of genomics to plant breeding from academia and the private industry. For more information and registration, visit or Email Julie at

Bidding a sad farewell to Rebeca Madrigal

We said good-bye in October to Rebeca Madrigal, who moved on to UC Berkeley for a new challenge and opportunity. Rebeca joined the SBC in 2015. While we are sad to see her go so soon and will miss her hard work, fun-loving personality and infectious smile, we know that she will do well in her new position and wish her much happiness and success. Thank you, Rebeca for your 2 ½ years of support for the SBC.

SBC Advisory Council will meet in February

The SBC Advisory Council is comprised of dedicated industry leaders who volunteer their time and talents to improve operations and outreach at the SBC. The breath of their service is extensive: they collaborate on research projects and support fund-raising activities, help create and promote new programs, serve as liaisons to the plant science industry, and provide the SBC with industry access and credibility. We are very grateful for their service.

Phil Ashcraft, Verdant Partners
Charlie Brummer, UC Davis Plant Breeding Center
Rich Collins, The Collins Farm
Jovan Djordjevic, Bayer CropScience Vegetable Seeds
Rick Falconer, Rijk Zwaan (CHAIR)
Dan Gardner, S&W Seed Co.
George Gough, Monsanto
Gary Hudson, Hudson & Associates, Inc.
Matthew Johnston, Syngenta
Francois Korn, SeedQuest
John Palmer, California Crop Improvement Association
John Purcell, Monsanto
Howard-Yana Shapiro, Mars Inc.
Gilles Gay/Cecilia Chi-Ham, HM.Clause
Chip Sundstrom, FJS Consulting
Mary Wadsworth, J.G. Boswell Company
Bill White, White Seed Co. (Seed Advisory Board)
Chris Zanobini, Ag Association Management Services, CSA
Jeff Zischke, Sakata Seed America

The Kent J. Bradford Endowment

The establishment of the Kent J. Bradford Endowment 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 a recent gift to the endowment from Chia Tai:

Chai Tai logo

It is with partners like this that are helping us to work towards meeting the endowment goal. Thank you, Chia Tai! For more information about the endowment, please visit


Seed Biotechnology Center to host Cucurbitaceae 2018 at UC Davis in November

The SBC together with a program committee will organize Cucurbitaceae 2018, being held on November 11 — 16, 2018 at the UC Davis Conference Center. The gathering will bring together about 250 cucurbit scientists from around the world for an in-depth conference exploring new frontiers of cucurbit research and development.

Cucurbitaceae 2018 at UC Davis in November 2018

Conference session topics are being determined now and will include presentations organized from individual paper submissions on the following proposed topics:

  • Genomics
  • Breeding and Genetics
  • Production and Quality
  • Biotic Stresses
  • Floral & Fruit Development
  • Genetic Determinates of Fruit Quality

Registration and Abstract Submission opening planned for March.
Sponsorship, preliminary program and committee member information found on conference web site @

Seed Central logo
Kicking off 2018 with exciting Seed Central events

Seed Central holding a Special Networking Tech Showcase, January at UC Davis
Seed Central holding a Special Networking Tech Showcase featuring 40 companies on January at UC Davis

2:15 - 4:30  Presentations at the UC Davis Buehler Alumni Center
4:30 - 7:00  Tech showcase & networking at the UC Davis 
Conference Center

Representatives from Seed Central’s January event sponsor Rijk Zwaan, located in The Netherlands, will be at the event and available to meet and talk with students about their careers.

Presenting & Exhibiting Companies (click to view)

Seed Central & Food Central Forum planned for February

February 8, 2018
4:30 – 6:00 Networking
6:00 - 7:00 Conversation in 3D

UC Davis PhD Student Katherine "Katie" Murphy in conversation with Dr. Rita Mumm, Director, African Plant Breeding Academy; Assoc. Prof. Quantitative Genetics and Plant Breeding, Emerita, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Member of the Board of Trustees of CIMMYT; Principal of GeneMax Services.

Watch in March for the Special Seed Central Event: Encounters:
 Seed & Agbiotech professionals with atypical backgrounds

March 8, 2018
4:00 - 7:00  ENCOUNTERS, followed by Networking

Nothing destined them to work in the seed and agbiotech industry, yet they are today, and loving it. Their major was not their destiny, and neither was their background. Come hear their stories at Seed Central on March 8. This special event will illustrate how many varied pathways and circuitous routes can lead to a satisfying and successful career in the seed and agbiotech industry.

Registration and more information for all Seed Central events @

Update: Collaboration for Plant Pathogen Strain Identification (CPPSI)

The 2017 CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant is now fully executed and funds are available for the continued development of differentiating host sets, associated reference plant pathogen strains and white papers (Reference Materials). The CPPSI Business Plan was revised to reflect the evolution from startup and establishment to sustainability and continued growth. CPPSI Working Group members met with the CPPSI Advisory Council during the September California Seed Association meetings. The new Business Plan was discussed and approved.  A Material Transfer Agreement with in-kind suppliers of seeds and reference plant pathogen strain cultures was implemented and clears the way to move forward with the continued development of the Watermelon Fusarium wilt, Tomato TSWV and Pepper TSWV round two CPPSI Reference Materials. The CPPSI Working Group is collaborating with GEVES-MATREF, Naktuinbouw and Plantum in the development of round three CPPSI Reference Materials for Tomato Root-knot nematodes, Tomato Fusarium wilt and Melon Powdery mildew. Because of the complexity of the Melon Powdery mildew disease system, a Melon PM working group was formed to integrate the many existing differentiating host sets and resolve strain naming issues. The working group is comprised of representatives from CPPSI, GEVES-MATREF, Naktuinbouw, Plantum and the European Seed Association and will meet in person 13 - 14 February 2018. The continued support of the founding CPPSI member seed companies is greatly appreciated by the CPPSI Working Group: Bayer, Enza Zaden, HM.Clause, Monsanto, Rijk Zwaan, Sakata and Syngenta.

Visit CPPSI online @


Breeding with Genomics – February 13-15, 2018, Davis, CA
Early-bird registration deadline extended!
For more information, contact Julie Tillman at 

Seed Biology & Quality – June 19-21, 2018, Davis, CA
For more information, contact Susan DiTomaso at 

Seed Business 101 – Field Crops, August 20-24, 2018, St. Charles, IL
For more information, contact Susan DiTomaso at 

Program Management for Plant Breeders – September 18-20, 2018, Davis, CA
For more information, contact Susan DiTomaso at 

Plant Breeding Academy – Class VII – September 2018, Davis, CA
Applications now being accepted!
For more information, contact Joy Patterson at


The UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center hosts successful Seed Business 101 Horticulture course

The UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center hosts successful Seed Business 101 Horticulture course
The SBC congratulates graduates of the Seed Business 101 Horticulture course, held this December in Davis, CA. Thirty-three individuals from as far as Australia participated in the course.

To date, more than 500 seed professionals from around the world have attended Seed Business 101. Seed Business 101 is a one-week course designed to expose participants to the five functional areas of a seed company (R&D, production, operations, sales and marketing and administration). By creating a virtual seed company and case studies for each functional area, the course content is delivered in a very interactive way. During each of the 4 case studies, participants assume a different functional responsibility within the company. The course gives employees that are new to the seed industry a broad understanding of the major aspects of a seed company’s operations and cross-departmental knowledge of best practices for profitability. The course is taught by widely respected seed business executives with additional help of industry experts participating as guest speakers.

The team of instructors (Maurice Smith, Pieter Vandenberg, and Mike Pereira) were joined by a diverse group of expert guest speakers: Chip Sundstrom (Consultant and Vintner), John Palmer (Executive Director, CCIA, UC Davis), Wayne Wiebe (Director of Quality Assurance, HM.Clause), Dean Liere (Portfolio Manager, Syngenta Seeds), Pedro Bello (Staff Research Associate, UC Davis), and Elina Nino (UCCE Apiculturist, Department of Entomology, UC Davis). The SBC would also like to recognize and thank Keith Walker, Alyson Thornton, Bill Copes, Elise Vanek, Andres Navarro, and Matt Linder (all of HM.Clause) for their support and hosting a tour.

The next session of Seed Business 101 Horticulture will be held in December 2018 in Davis, California. Visit us online @ if you are interested in this course and would like to learn more or contact Susan DiTomaso at

UC Davis African Plant Breeding Academy (PBA) Class III completes session 2 in Nairobi, Kenya

UC Davis African Plant Breeding Academy (PBA) Class III completes session 2 in Nairobi, Kenya

The UC Davis African PBA’s Class III completed this fall Session 2 of its 6-week program in Nairobi, Kenya. An initiative of the African Orphan Crop Consortium, the program is organized in collaboration with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the African Union New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency, and sponsored by Mars Incorporated and AGRA. The third class of the UC Davis African Plant Breeding Academy consists of 33 breeders, half of whom are women, representing 16 African nations. This session provided in-depth training on phenotyping, multiple trait selection, marker-assisted breeding applications, and advanced experimental designs. During this recent session, the class visited the CIMMYT MLN Screening Facility in Naivasha (photo at right) to see first-hand the procedures involved in evaluating germplasm for resistance to Maize Lethal Necrosis, a disease threat to East Africa that has been met with swift action by the CIMMYT Global Maize Team in the form of resistant maize hybrids. During the course of the program, students will spend more than 300 hours in classes, workshops and the field, training to complete this premium professional certification program. Read more about the African PBA.

UC Davis PBA partners with LimaGrain to deliver customized training course in France

UC Davis PBA partners with LimaGrain to deliver customized training course in France

Continuing to fill the needs for training of plant breeders, the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy organized and delivered a customized training course as a collaborative effort with the Limagrain Academy. Twenty five breeders based in France, Brazil, Czech Republic, India, Israel, Italy, Morocco, Netherlands, Russia, Spain and UK attended the one week course in Mons/Clermont-Ferrand, November 20-24, 2017. The core UC Davis PBA lecturers included Rale Gjuric, Allen van Deynze and Todd Wehner.

The UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy is a premium professional certificate program offered USA, Europe, Asia and Africa. To date, more than two hundred eighty (280) private industry breeders have attended the UC Davis PBA certificate program, making it the most significant program of its kind.  In addition to PBA, the SBC offers a variety of short courses on technical and management topics related to plant breeding. UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy starts its seventh class in September of 2018.

Learn more about the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy.

SBC In the Press

  • GMOs Might Feed the World If Only Investors Weren’t So Scared SBC Director Kent Bradford and UC Berkeley crop biotechnologist Peggy Lemaux discuss the detrimental effects of the campaign led by consumer activists who question the health effects of GMO foods. Read more
  • Farmer Breaks Ground with California-grown Coffee Success Coffee has never been commercially viable in the U.S. -- until now. Working on coffee grown by Good Land Organics located outside of Santa Barbara, CA., SBC Director of Research Allen Van Deynze and UCD colleagues Juan Medrano and Dario Cantu released the coffee genome last January and are continuing to improve on it along with Amanda Hulse-Kemp (USDA/ARS). View video and article
  • FFAR Grant for Testing Drying Beads Awarded to UC Davis Researchers The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a large grant supporting research testing the use of drying bead technology, developed by SBC Director Kent Bradford, Johan Van Asbrouck (Rhino Research) and others, to reduce food waste and energy use. Read more
  • No Crop Left Behind: Improving the Plants that Africans Eat and Breeders Neglect The SBC is very proud of the meaningful impact that the combined efforts of the African Plant Breeding Academy and The African Orphan Crops Consortium is having on the improvement of orphan crop quality and nutritional value. Read more @
  • Powerful Tools, Major Possibilities: New Technologies are Proving to be an Asset to Up-and-Coming Plant Breeders In the September issue of Germination, SBC Education Director Rale Gjuric discusses the continued and valuable role of modern plant breeders, who are using the latest technological tools to do a job that, despite being as old as agriculture itself, is more important than ever. Read article online @

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