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

January 2019 eNews

Happy New Year from the SBC!

SBC Spotlight


SBC releases Annual Report

SBC Annual Report 2017
2017 was a busy year at the SBC! Read all about our educational courses, people, research, outreach, public service and other activities in our most recent Annual Report.

Keep your eyes out for the 2018 report which is currently under development.

SBC Director of Research Allen Van Deynze awarded Lifetime Achievement Award

SBC Director of Research Allen Van Deynze awarded Lifetime Achievement Award
SBC Director of Research Allen Van Deynze awarded Lifetime Achievement Award
In November, the organizing committee of the 24th International Pepper Conference awarded Allen Van Deynze the Lifetime Achievement Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize individuals who have contributed to the advancement of Capsicum research, extension, technology and knowledge in the areas of breeding and genetics, horticultural management and production (including production methods, cultural systems and sustainable approaches), integrated pest management, and post-harvest issues. Congratulations Allen!

SBC co-organizes Cucurbitaceae 2018 held at UC Davis
November 12 — 15, 2018 at UC Davis


Held in the US for the 9th time and in California for the 2nd time, Cucurbitaceae 2018 brought together over 250 cucurbit scientists, both public and private, from 16 countries for an in-depth conference exploring new frontiers of cucurbit research and development. A combined 116 talks and posters were presented at the 2018 gathering.

Cucurbitaceae 2018 Highlights

  • Three days of oral presentations, themed sessions of invited talks by domestic and international professionals from the public sector and industry to discuss advances and applications for the Cucurbitaceae species
  • Poster and invited speaker sessions on the following topics: Genomics, Genetic Resources, Breeding and Genetics, Production and Quality, Biotic Stress, Floral & Fruit Development, Breeding for Resistance
  • Welcome Reception with live music held at the UC Davis Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art
  • Crop-specific sub-meetings for cucumber, melon, squash, watermelon, and melon powdery mildew
  • Off-site tours to Bayer, Marrone Bio Innovations, Seka Hills Olive Mill & Tasting Room and the UC Davis Robert Mondavi Institute research winery
  • In partnership with Seed Central, squash, olive oil, and honey tasting followed by a networking social and “Breeding for culinary qualities and chefs' expectations” panel discussion featuring the following panelists:
    Dr. Ali Bouzari, Culinary Scientist, Co-Founder, CSO Pilot R+D
    Dr. Lindsay Wyatt, Pumpkin & Squash breeder, Johnny's Selected Seeds
    Nick Balla, Chef
    Vince Caguin, Director of Nutrition Services & Warehousing, Natomas Unified School District
    Paige Schoening, Farm to Table Program Manager, Guckenheimer at Google

Thank you to all conference participants, attendees and sponsors for coming together and helping to make CUCURBITACEAE 2018 a huge success!

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.

Special efforts are underway in 2019 to meet the endowment goal and for it to coincide with the SBC’s 20th anniversary celebration in September.

Seed Central finishes off 2018 with exciting events

Featured Speaker: Dr. Gail Taylor
September 2018

Department Chair and Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis
Dr. Taylor's research priorities include the molecular basis of plant adaptation to a high CO2 world, improving the postharvest shelf life of lettuce through preharvest physiology and genetics, and producing the first genomic information on watercress — the most nutrient dense of the leafy crops with significant links to health outcomes.
Topic: From tree leaf growth to leafy greens- Plant Science for a sustainable future

ASTA Meets UC Davis and UC Berkeley
October 2018

ASTA Meets UC Davis
Seed Central invited a delegation from the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) to visit UC Berkeley and UC Davis. Thirty-five research and management executives, led by ASTA CEO Andy LaVigne met with leaders, scientists and students from both universities. They discussed the medium & long term scientific and technological challenges the industry faces, the variety of career paths it offers, and its medium & long term HR requirements. They learned about some of the many facets of seed and ag research on both campuses.

Processing Tomato Conference @ UC Davis
December 2018

Processing Tomato Conference @ UC Davis
Co-hosted by Seed Central and the UC Davis World Food Center
The full-day conference brought together Northern California’s main actors in the processing tomato value chain: breeders, seed dealers, transplanters, growers, processors, and equipment manufacturers. It facilitated brainstorming around some of the industry’s key issues to help bring about a joint approach towards solutions in the pre-competitive area.
Evening feature: The Job Landscape in the Processing Tomato Value Chain.
Seven industry professionals discussed career paths and current jobs:
Robbie Johnson • General Manager, California Transplants
Chad Kramer • Plant Breeder, Bayer Vegetable Seeds
John Marchese • Senior Manager Global Agriculture, KraftHeinz
Valerie Pantone • Sales/Marketing Coordinator, TS&L Seed Company
Julian Patino • International Operations, Dried Fruits/Engineering & Technical Services, The Morning Star Company
Kyle Quinn • Salesman, AgSeeds Unlimited 
Chris Ward • Director of Operations, Pacific Coast Producers 

Upcoming SBC Events


Plans are underway to celebrate the SBC’s 20th and Seed Central’s 10th anniversary. Events for the week are being considered for the week of September 9th, 2019 culminating with a special Seed Central Event on September 12th, 2019. All programs will be held at UC Davis.

January 10, 2019
Seed Central to hold Special Networking Tech Showcase featuring over 40 companies

Seed Central Tech Showcase
The Networking Tech Showcase for seed, ag and food companies: Startups, early stage and beyond

2:00 - 4:15 Presentations at the UC Davis Buehler Alumni Center

4:30 - 7:00 Tech showcase & networking at the UC Davis Conference Center

February 14, 2019 • Seed Central Forum presenter: Dr. Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra

March 14, 2019 • Dr. Richard Michelmore: So many genomes, so many genes, so little time 

April 11, 2019Seed Central “Job Panorama” in a Seed Company
 4:00 - 6:00 pm "Job Panorama" presentation

Seed Central Job Panorama 2019

Seed Central will invite students to discover the wide range of exciting, high tech jobs that make up a seed company. Seed Central will "x-ray" a seed company's workforce to understand what sort of team it takes to go from research through production, operations, sales and marketing, all the way to the market. A wide range of seed professionals will discuss their respective jobs. Students will have the opportunity to be paired with these seed professionals during several months following the event.

Update: Collaboration for Plant Pathogen Strain Identification (CPPSI)

The CPPSI Work Group continues to have monthly calls to discuss next steps for developing test protocols, white papers, timelines, and future diseases to address. In addition, collaborations with European partners continue to develop. In February, the Advisory Committee will meet during the American Seed Trade Association Vegetable & Flower Seed Conference in Florida for a CPPSI update and for stakeholder input. Also in 2019, resources for members and all will be made available online.

To learn more about CPPSI, including its sponsors, visit CPPSI online @

Upcoming SBC Courses

Please check our upcoming courses information by following the links provided below.

Seed Production
February 11 - 14, 2019, Davis, CA USA 

Seed Business 101, Field Crops
August 19 - 23, 2019, St. Charles, IL USA
Seed Business 101, Horticulture
December 9 - 13, 2019, Davis, CA USA

UC Davis Plant Breeding AcademySM in Europe
UC Davis Plant Breeding AcademySM (PBA) is a professional certificate program offered since 2006 with classes in USA, Europe, Africa and Asia. To date, the program has trained nearly 300 breeders, 80% of which are from the private seed industry. Class 6 of the European PBA will start in October 2019. Participants attend six 6-day sessions over approx. two years. Applications now being accepted! Early application discount available until March 31, 2019. Information and application available online @ 

Recent SBC Courses

SBC hosts successful Seed Business 101 Horticulture course

Seed Business 101 UC Davis
The SBC congratulates participants of Seed Business 101 Horticulture held December in 3-7 in Davis, CA. Twenty-six seed professionals representing fourteen organizations successfully completed the course.  To date, more than 550 seed professionals from around the world have attended this one-week course, which is designed to expose participants to the five functional areas of a seed company: R&D, production, operations, sales and marketing and administration. 

The next session of Seed Business 101 Horticulture will be December 9-13, 2019 in Davis, California. To learn more, visit us online @ or contact Susan DiTomaso at

UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy SM (PBA) in Africa Class IV completes Session 1 in Nairobi, Kenya

The UC Davis African PBA’s Class IV completed this fall Session 1 of its 6-week program in Nairobi, Kenya, November 25 – December 8, 2018. The program is organized in collaboration with The African Union New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency and the African Orphan Crops Consortium. Over the next thirteen months, this class will spend more than 300 hours in classes, workshops and the field, training to complete this premium professional certification program.

UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy

The fourth class of the UC Davis African Plant Breeding Academy (pictured above) consists of 36 breeders, half of whom are women, representing 23 African nations

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), an African Union strategic framework for pan-African socio-economic development, is both a vision and a policy framework for Africa in the twenty-first century. NEPAD is a radically new intervention, spearheaded by African leaders, to address critical challenges facing the continent: poverty, development and Africa's marginalization internationally.

SBC in the Press

SBC Founding Father Gabe Patin and Director Kent Bradford discuss benefits of Sakata’s new Woodland Innovation Center

In the December issue of Comstock Magazine, SBC Founding Father Gabe Patin and Director Kent Bradford highlight the value of locating Sakata’s Woodland Innovation Center in the Sacramento Valley. The region’s fertile soil and ideal climate make it one of the best places in the world for seed production. In addition, its close proximity to UC Davis will allow Sakata to strengthen its already existing ties to the university. Read full story here. Watch video introducing the center.

Dry-chain for groundnuts program in India inaugurated by SBC Director Kent Bradford

The Hindu logo
Vivia Foundation, a Netherlands-based public benefit organization, launched the ‘Dry chain for groundnuts’ post-harvest program at Renuka Bio Farms unit in Routhusuramala village near Srikalahasti, India. An essential part of the program is a solar drying chamber facility, which was inaugurated by SBC Director Kent Bradford during his visit to India this Fall. Dr. Bradford dubs the program the first comprehensive field-tested ‘dry chain’ system in India that is applied to pre-harvest and post-harvest crop processing. Future demonstrations and training programs are being planned to showcase dry chain technologies at the farm. Read full article.

Kent Bradford discusses renewal of the World Food Center in Farm to Table Talk Podcast

World Food Center UC Davis
Farm to Fork, Kent Bradford
SBC Director Kent Bradford sits down with Farm to Table Talk podcast host Rodger Wasson to discuss the World Food Center’s (WFC) renewed mission and what it means to farmers, the food chain and consumers in California and worldwide. The WFC is based in the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and works on local, national and global scales to support scientific research and policy development leading to implementation of food production and distribution systems that support the health of people and the environment while addressing the challenges of population growth and climate change. Listen to podcast.

Allen Van Deynze talks about the use of gene editing in modern plant breeding

Allen Van Deynze talks about the use of gene editing in modern plant breeding
In this HOW STUFF WORKS article, SBC Director of Research Allen Van Deynze describes how modern plant breeders utilize gene editing (CRISPR) to tweak specific genes in crop plant genomes to modify and optimize their epression, thereby optimizing desired traits to create varieties more friendly to growers and favorable for large scale agricultural production. This article highlights how plant scientists made headlines recently by using CRISPR to modify some undesirable traits in the groundcherry, a small-husked berry that resembles a tiny yellow tomatillo. Read full article.

Allen Van Deynze working to sequence African Orphan Crop Moringa

Allen Van Deynze working to sequence African Orphan Crop Moringa
In the October Washington Post issue, SBC Director of Research Allen Van Deynze talks about his sequencing work with moringa and other African orphan crops. Overall, improved varieties of African orphan crops are needed that are more nutritious, disease resistant and have higher yields. Moringa is particularly promising as it has been deemed a superhero plant that could potentially become a new superfood. Read story here.

Kent Bradford highlights pitfalls of GMO labeling in The Hill

In an opinion contribution to The Hill, SBC Director Ken Bradford explains how GMO food labeling can be misleading and even false at times. He also provides  general information about GMO labeling laws. Read full article.


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