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

April eNews

Program Management for Plant Breeders

The course objective is to enhance the management skills of professional scientists who are leading and directing plant breeding and laboratory programs in modern agricultural research and development programs of agribusiness companies and the public sector.  Some of the topics include:

  • Understanding where your plant breeding or research program fits in the overall strategy of the organization. Establishing a vision and goal for your program and defining your key strategies and capacities.
  • Comprehending the financial aspects of your program. Managing budgets, expenses, capital projects and period reporting. Reading and understanding a financial statement and managing your resources within the goals of your organization.
  • Leading and managing people towards a common goal. Learning the principles of effective hiring, retention, evaluation, promotion, training, mentorship and motivation. Handling difficult situations using conflict resolution. Dealing with and embracing change and creating a culture of innovation.
  • Creating effective and efficient programs. Understanding the principles of work flow, scheduling, safety, and legal compliance. Learning issues surrounding intellectual property and contracts, treaties and agreements.

Lead instructors include industry experts, Fred Bliss, Tom Francois and Rale Gjuric.  This course will be at UC Davis on September 17 – 19, 2013. 

Seed Business 101SM
This one week course is 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. The program gives new employees 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 industry executives with additional help of industry experts participating as guest speakers. Since the beginning of this program in 2010, more than 170 participants have completed this course. 

Field Crops: September 30 – October 4, 2013, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Horticultural Crops: January 20 – 24, 2014, Monterey, California, USA

Asian Plant Breeding AcademySM completes a successful session in Kanchanaburi, Thailand
The UC Davis Asian Plant Breeding Academy (APBA) completed a successful session last week in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.  The program’s core curriculum was delivered by Dr. Todd Wehner (North Carolina State University) and Dr. Rale Gjuric (UC Davis).  Dr. Taweesak Pulum, Sweet Seed Company and pioneer of sweet corn breeding in Thailand, was a guest lecturer.  The course was enriched by interaction with local breeders through visits to Chia Tai Research Station, HM-Clause Research Station, Suphanburi Agricultural R&D Institute, Suphanburi Rice Research Centre and River Kwai International Food Industry.  The session was hosted by Chia Tai Company.

The UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy (PBA) is a premium professional certificate program offered in the USA, Europe and Asia.  To date, 114 industry breeders have attended the UC Davis PBA, making it the most significant program of its kind.

Employers appreciate the opportunity to provide their valued employees advanced training without disrupting their full-time employment. Participants attend six, 6-day sessions over two years. The instructors are internationally recognized experts in plant breeding and seed technology.

Applications are being accepted for the European Plant Breeding Academy Class III beginning in October 2013.  For more information on the UC Davis European Plant Breeding Academy contact Joy Patterson at or visit

Seed Central/Food Central Events
Monthly events continue to occur on the second Thursday of each month (during the academic year).  On May 9th, the featured speaker is Dr. Dan Flynn, executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center.  His presentation will be, “Doing for olives what UC Davis did for wine.” There will be 90 minutes of networking, followed by the presentation. In addition to this program in May, there will also be afternoon programs that begin at 1:30 at UC Davis. For more information see


Gene discovery may yield lettuce that will sprout in hot weather
March 28, 2013 

A team of researchers, led by a University of California, Davis, plant scientist, has identified a lettuce gene and related enzyme that put the brakes on germination during hot weather -- a discovery that could lead to lettuces that can sprout year-round, even at high temperatures. The study also included researchers from Arcadia Biosciences and Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University, India. The finding is particularly important to the nearly $2 billion lettuce industries of California and Arizona, which together produce more than 90 percent of the nation's lettuce. The study results appear online in the journal The Plant Cell.

"Discovery of the genes will enable plant breeders to develop lettuce varieties that can better germinate and grow to maturity under high temperatures," said the study's lead author Kent Bradford, a professor of plant sciences and director of the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center.

UC Davis reveals genetic diversity of genes in peppers
February 14, 2013
From the small, spicy Thai chiles to the portly, mild bell pepper, researchers at the University of California, Davis, have developed a "family tree" of sorts for peppers and characterized the diversity of genes found in a collection of common cultivated pepper varieties.

Findings from the study, which sampled 30,000 genes of the Capsicum annum species, reveal intriguing details about the relationships between these different types of peppers and the incredible genetic diversity among the spicy peppers. This genetic information will be critically important to plant breeders for developing hardier, higher yielding plants for production around the world.

For example, many sources of drought- and disease-resistance are found in the tiny, wild, spicy peppers that are difficult to cultivate and not appealing to consumers. But transferring these traits through cross-pollination into more commonly cultivated peppers can take years. This process can be done more quickly and affordably with the ability to use DNA markers to follow genes important to producing different types of cultivated peppers.

"The exciting part of the study is in the biology," said plant scientist Allen Van Deynze, lead researcher on the study. "We have already identified marked differences in regions of the chromosomes that control fruit shape and production of capsaicin, the compound that makes peppers hot."

Seeds: Physiology of Development, Germination and Dormancy
This updated and much revised third edition of Seeds: Physiology of Development, Germination and Dormancyprovides a thorough overview of seed biology and incorporates much of the progress that has been made during the past fifteen years. With an emphasis on placing information in the context of the seed, this new edition includes recent advances in the areas of molecular biology of development and germination, as well as fresh insights into dormancy, ecophysiology, desiccation tolerance, and longevity. Authored by preeminent authorities in the field, this book is an invaluable resource for researchers, teachers, and students interested in the diverse aspects of seed biology. The book can be purchased directly from Springer here.

Bewley, J.D., Bradford, K.J., Hilhorst, H.W.M., and Nonogaki, H. (2013 – released in 2012). Seeds: Physiology of Development, Germination and Dormancy. Third Edition. (New York: Springer).

Trait Diversity and Potential for Selection Based on Variation Among Regionally Adapted Processing Tomato Germplasm receives an award

The American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) notified the authors of Trait Diversity and Potential for Selection Based on Variation Among Regionally Adapted Processing Tomato Germplasm that their paper was named the ASHS Outstanding Cross-Commodity Publication Award winner for papers published in 2012. The authors will be honored at the awards ceremony during the 110th ASHS Annual Conference in May. [J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 137(6):427–437]

Boddy, L.G., Bradford, K.J. and Fischer, A.J. 2012. Population-based threshold models describe weed germination and emergence patterns across varying temperature, moisture and oxygen conditions. Journal of Applied Ecology 49:1225-1236.

For questions or comments, please contact Sue DiTomaso.


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