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

June 2020 eNews

eNews June 2020

SBC new logo

Message from our Director

SBC Director Allen Van Deynze (UC Davis)
When I took on the directorship, it was a transition year with re-staffing (not replacing) Kent Bradford and Sue DiTomaso who both retired almost a year ago. This is going well with top candidates almost finalized. The SBC, like all of you, has remained nimble with making adjustments as the COVID-19 situation changes. We started with business as usual until the first week of March when we postponed the European Plant Breeding Academy (EPBA) session in Angers, France. We have since postponed four such sessions in Davis, Europe and Africa to the fall; cancelled our Seed Biology and Quality class; and moved Seed Business 101 Field Crops to November. I want to commend all of our staff and instructors for remaining flexible.  Kudos to Julie Tillman who converted the Future of Lettuce Symposium held March 16 from an on-site event to an online web conferencing format in a single week. It was well attended and managed. I also want to thank Rale Gjuric for keeping our EPBA class engaged with weekly remote office hours to discuss plant breeding topics. We polled the class asking if they would consider having a session online in light of COVID-19. Unanimously, they voted to postpone and wait until they could have in-person sessions, emphasizing the value of in-person discussions and education, the cornerstone of the Plant Breeding Academy and SBC professional classes. Accordingly, we are accepting applications for Class VIII of the UC Davis PBA starting this fall. Stay safe.

SBC Spotlights

Discipline of Plant Breeding’ held in Washington, DC in February.

SBC Director Allen Van Deynze (UC Davis), Washington DC
SBC Director Allen Van Deynze (UC Davis) and Jeff Zischke, Senior Director Research and Development Sakata Seed America
On Feb 19-20th, the Seed Biotechnology Center, National Association of Plant Breeders Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee, and ASTA hosted 40 regulators to discuss the ‘Discipline of Plant Breeding’ in Washington, DC.
( They also met with food and seed Industry personnel to discuss plant breeding innovation. On Feb 20th, Allen Van Allen Van Deynze, Jeff Zischke, Director of Research, Sakata Seed America and Andy LaVigne, CEO for American Seed Trade Association attended the American Frozen Food Institute meeting in Las Vegas March 1st. Van Deynze spoke to 70 legislators and staff on Breeding Crops for Food Safety at the capitol.

Collaboration for Plant Pathogen Strain Identification (CPPSI)

We are pleased to announce the availability of CPPSI Services, a one-stop portal to order sets of Reference Materials (host differentials, reference pathogen strains/races and an informative white paper).  This service is free to CPPSI members and available to non-members for a nominal fee.  Go to to place an order. Reference Materials for pepper TSWV and tomato TSWV have been released and can be ordered on the CPPSI website (

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

Indigenous Mexican corn could improve food security in developing countries

Indigenous Mexican corn could improve food security in developing countries
SBC Director Allen Van Deynze (UC Davis) and Agronomy Professor Javier Lopez (Tecnológico del Valle de Oaxaca) discuss their international research project with an ancient, indigenous variety of corn ("Sierra Mixe corn") from the village of Totontepec near Oaxaca Mexico. Sierra Mixe produces higher yields with less or no fertilizer inputs, which could mean greater food security for developing countries that have poor soil or where farmers don’t have access to commercial fertilizer. 

Seed Central

Seed Central is a public-private partnership. Its purpose is to energize the seed and ag-biotech industry cluster surrounding UC Davis and to contribute to the economic development in the region and beyond. Seed Central facilitates communication & research collaboration between the seed and ag-biotech industry and UC Davis in order to bring science to market faster.

In May, Seed Central hosted Seed Central Express, where Dr. Markita del Carpio Landry gave an engaging presentation about nanomaterials enabling the delivery of genetic material without transgene integration in mature plants. The recording of this presentation is available to Seed Central premium members on the website.

To register and view calendar of events, click here.

Upcoming SBC Events


UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy

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 more than 350 breeders, 70% of which are from the private seed industry. Class VIII of the PBA Davis will start in September 2020 and is now open for applications. Class size is limited—apply early! For more information, click here.

Hemp Breeding and Seed Production – October 27 – 28, 2020, Davis, CA

Seed Business 101 – Field Crops, November 16-20, 2020, St. Charles, IL 
Seed Business 101 – Horticulture, December 7-11, 2020, Davis, CA

Recent Courses and Progrmams

The Future of Lettuce: A Symposium organized by the Genes to Growers Project

The Future of Lettuce: A Symposium organized by the Genes to Growers Project
Convening experts in lettuce breeding, production, post-harvest handling, safety, marketing, and consumer preferences to envision the future of lettuce

March 16, 2020

Originally to be held at The Cliffs Hotel and Spa, Pismo Beach, California, the Symposium was moved to an online web conferencing remote format due to global pandemic circumstances. Nearly 80 online attendees participated in the one-day Symposium that included four topic sessions and 15 invited speakers representing public and private sectors. The structure of the symposium involved short presentations followed by a moderated panel discussion and audience participation period, in each of the following topic areas:


SBC in the Press

Inside the “coffee genome”

SBC Director Allen Van Deynze and Juan Medrano (both UC Davis)
Featured on CBS News: UC Davis coffee researchers Juan Medrano and Allen Van Deynze (SBC Director) are the first geneticists to create a reference genome for a coffee bean, Coffea arabica.
Watch interview

Kent Bradford visited with a reporter from Science about a major change to U.S. regulation of biotech.

Kent Bradford visited with a reporter from Science about a major change to U.S. regulation of biotech

Article: United State relaxes rules for biotech crops


Rebeca Madrigal, SBC
We said good-bye in April to Rebeca Madrigal, who has moved on to a new challenge and opportunity. Rebeca joined the SBC as a Program Representative in 2015. We are sad to see her go and will miss her hard work, fun-loving personality and infectious smile.  We wish her much happiness and success in her new position.

For more information about the SBC, visit us online at

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