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

October 2017 eNews

October_eNews SBC

SBC Annual Report cover page
The Seed Biotechnology Center is very proud and excited to announce the release of our 2016 Annual Report! Please take a moment to read about all that has been going on in 2016 here at the SBC: Educational Courses, new and continuing Plant Breeding Academies, outreach, research, updates about our many partnerships and collaborations, and much more! VIEW FULL 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 a recent gift to the endowment from:

Known You logo

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

SBC Founding Father Gabe Patin receives UC Davis Award of Distinction

Gabe Patin and Kent Bradford, SBC
The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis honored Gabe Patin with an Award of Distinction at the College Celebration held in early October. The awards are presented annually to individuals whose contributions and achievements enhance the college's ability to provide cutting-edge research, top-notch education and innovative outreach. He was recognized as a Friend of the College. The SBC will forever be grateful for GabeS’s vision and championing of the SBC. Read more


Seed Biotechnology Center hosts successful 12th Triennial International Society for Seed Science Conference (ISSS) in Monterey, CA, USA

The SBC together with an international program committee successfully organized the 12th Triennial International Society for Seed Science Conference held in September at the Monterey Plaza Hotel in Monterey, CA. Taking place in the U.S. for the first time since 1989, the conference brought 180 attendees from 24 different countries and enabled top international seed scientists to share research findings and interact with the U.S. and Californian seed industry.

ISSS Conference attendees 2017

The conference program included three invited plenary lectures: Jill Farrant, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Oscar Lorenzo, Spanish-Portuguese Agriculture Research Institute (CIALE), Spain; and Kent Bradford, University of California, Davis, USA. Nine invited and 66 contributed talks were presented throughout 7 scientific sessions. In addition, 25 one-minute oral poster summaries and 55 poster presentations rounded out the scientific program. Attendees enjoyed a morning of tours to agricultural companies in the Salinas Valley area, including seed research and technology, breeding, and vegetable production and harvesting, followed by a visit to the Steinbeck Museum in Salinas and networking organized by Seed Central. Guests were treated to a festive Welcome Reception with appetizers and beverages and an evening Gala Banquet that included live music. Check out Giant Views video and audio interviews depicting Seed World’s Marc Zienkiewicz in conversation with selected seed researchers in attendance at the conference, including SBC Director Kent Bradford. In addition, keep an eye out for Seed World's story highlighting the conference in its December issue. Conference photos available for viewing online @

The 2020 conference will take place in Brighton, U.K.

Plant Breeding Center hosts the National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) annual meeting at UC Davis

Themed “Diverse Crops – Diverse Challenges”, the annual meeting of the National Association of Plant Breeders was held this past August at UC Davis. The meeting was hosted by the UC Davis Plant Breeding Center (PBC). SBC Research Director and PBC Associate Director Allen Van Deynze chaired the meeting, while PBC Director Charles Brummer and Program Manager Amanda Saichaie worked with Van Deynze on program development and logistical organization. The 360 attendees from across the U.S., along with some international visitors, were welcomed by Gail Taylor, new Chair of the Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis.

NAPB Conference group photo 2017

NAPB Conference program cover 2017
The keynote speaker was Jim Houston, Undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. A broad spectrum of professionals on the international organizing committee also helped coordinate the conference. Brummer noted, “This is the only conference in the U.S. where academic, government, private sector, and other breeders across all crop sectors – horticulture, agronomic crops, forestry, and others – get together to discuss breeding research.” According to Van Deynze, “This conference is very important for plant breeding because technology is ‘everything.’ We’re covering a range of topics related to plant breeding, with presentations on high-throughput phenotyping, ag engineering, and genomics. There is also a strong business component, with attendees learning about policy and intellectual property.” Highlights of the conference include field tours in the Davis and Salinas, California, areas, along with many renowned speakers, concurrent workshops, poster sessions, and receptions.

Seed Central logo
Successful Seed Central/Food Central (SC) events continue in 2017

Joint Seed Central & Food Central FORUM

Douglas Cook, UC Davis
Douglas Cook
Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, UC Davis
Director, Feed the Future Innovation Lab on Climate Resilient Chickpea
Principal Investigator of a National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program project to investigate the impact of domestication on nitrogen fixation in chickpeas.

To cap off a successful Networking event at Seed Central/Food Central’s Joint Forum in April, Douglas Cook delivered an interesting talk titled “Back the wilds: Tapping diversity in wild crop progenitors for agricultural innovation".

Learn more about Douglas Cook and his work @ Douglas Cook Lab Website
Feed the Future Innovation Lab Climate Resilient Chickpea

Special session at the USDA/ARS Research Station in Salinas, CA

Seed Central members in attendance at the April special session were treated to tours of the USDA’s Crop Improvement and Protection Research Unit, where they learned about various areas of research at the station:

  • Plant breeding: lettuce, spinach, melon, and sugar beet
  • Virology
  • Soil borne diseases
  • Downy mildew of spinach
  • Postharvest, methyl bromide alternatives & APHIS

The mission of the Crop Improvement and Protection Research Unit is to improve germplasm of sugar beet, lettuce, celery, spinach and melon, determine basic biology of viral, fungal and bacterial diseases affecting these crops, develop alternatives to methyl bromide as a soil fumigant for control of soil-borne pests in strawberry and vegetables, reduce postharvest losses of lettuce, develop scientifically based organic crop production practices, develop methods for control of weeds, and improve artichoke production practices including insect and disease control.

Learn more about the Salinas USDA/ARS Research Station @

Special Seed Industry Day at the 12th Triennial Conference of the International Society for Seed Science

Trade Show and Career Fair with "Speed Networking"

As a part of the larger International Society for Seed Science triennial conference in September, Seed Central hosted a Special Seed Industry Day in downtown Salinas. The afternoon involved a Trade Show with over 10 companies and a Speed Networking event that provided ninety students from UC Davis, California State University Fresno, Hartnell College and Woodland Community College the valuable opportunity to meet with representatives from 11 seed companies.

ISSS Seed Central speed networking event, Salinas, CA 2017

Visit for more information about Seed Central events and participants.

Update: Collaboration for Plant Pathogen Strain Identification (CPPSI)

The California Department of Food and Agriculture selected a CPPSI proposal to receive one of the 2017 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program awards. The award program begins November 1, 2017 and runs for two and a half years. Three of the four round two reference materials will be released by the end of 2017 (TSWV in tomato and pepper and lettuce downy mildew). The watermelon Fusarium wilt reference materials will take an additional 6 months. This disease system is far more complex than originally thought. Deployment of the tomato and pepper TSWV reference materials was delayed by the need to implement MTAs to guide the distribution of these materials. Once completed, white papers and links to the round two reference materials will be posted on 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 @


Seed Business 101 – Horticulture, December 4-8, 2017, Davis, CA
For more information, contact Rebeca Madrigal

Breeding with Genomics – February 13-15, 2018, Davis, CA
For more information, contact Rebeca Madrigal

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

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

Plant Breeding Academy – Class VIISeptember 2018, Davis, CA
More information to be posted soon, contact Joy Patterson


The UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center completes productive Seed Business 101 Field Crops course

The SBC congratulates graduates of the Seed Business 101 Field Crops course, held in late August in St. Charles, IL. Thirteen individuals from five countries (USA, India, Germany, France and Argentina) participated in the course.

UC Davis SBC Seed Business 101 Field Crops course

To date, more than 475 seed professionals have attended Seed Business 101 from around the world. 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 instructors included Tom Francis, Craig Newman, and Dave Westphal. Invited guest speakers and industry experts included: John Latham, President, Latham Hi Tech Seeds, and John Wyffels, President, Wyffels Hybrids. The UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center would also like to recognize Monsanto and AgReliant Genetics for their support and hosting tours.

Dates for the next session of Seed Business 101 Field Crops will be announced soon. The next session of Seed Business 101 Horticulture is December 4-8, 2017 in Davis, California. Visit us online @ if you are interested in this course and would like to learn more or contact Rebeca Madrigal at

UC Davis African Plant Breeding Academy (PBA) starts Class III in Nairobi, Kenya

African Plant Breeding Academy III Session

The UC Davis African PBA started its third class of students with a session in Nairobi, Kenya in May. The program is organized in collaboration with The African Union New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency and the African Orphan Crops Consortium. The third class of the UC Davis African Plant Breeding Academy consists of 33 breeders, half of whom are women, representing 18 African nations. Over the next thirteen months, they 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 European PBA graduates Class IV in Davis, CA.

UC Davis European PBA graduates 2017

The UC Davis European PBA graduated its fourth class with a session and graduation in Davis, California in June. Over the previous two years, during the six sessions held in Enkhuizen, The Netherlands; Angers, France; Gatersleben, Germany; Gent, Belgium; Almeria, Spain, and UC Davis, ten participants in this class spent more than 300 hours in classes, workshops and the field, training towards the PBA Certificate. Read more

UC Davis European PBA starts Class V in Enkhuizen, The Netherlands

EPBA Class 5_recolor_for_reals

The UC Davis European PBA started its fifth class of students in early October with a session in Enkhuizen, The Netherlands. With generous support from local industry represented by Seed Valley, the session was hosted by Monsanto and included visits to Syngenta, Bejo, Corn Bak and Incotec. Over the next two years, this class will spend more than 300 hours in classes, workshops and the field, training to complete this premium professional certificate program by attending a total of six sessions, held in Enkhuizen, The Netherlands; Angers, France; Gatersleben, Germany; Gent, Belgium; Almeria, Spain, and University of California, Davis. For information about future academies, contact Joy Patterson at or visit PBA online.

Upcoming Meetings

Cucurbitaceae Conference 2018
Cucurbitaceae Conference
November 11 -16, 2018
UC Davis, California
Registration set to open in April 2018!

SBC In the Press

  • Ever Wonder Why Cantaloupes Don't Smell Like They Used To? Plant breeders are focusing efforts on bringing back lost taste and appearance traits that consumers miss in fruits and vegetables. Read more
  • Certifying Quality Seed in Pakistan is especially complex in Pakistan. In collaboration with institutional counterparts at UC Davis, three faculty members from the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad work together to provide integrated solutions. Read more
  • Blueprint for Produce: How Fruits & Vegetables are Designed for the Market With UC Davis a top agricultural research center, the Central Valley’s excellent growing conditions and new farm technology constantly emerging from Silicon Valley, a lot of that seed development is happening quietly in the Bay Area’s backyard. Read article
  • SBC Director of Research Allen Van Deynze serves as Scientific Director for the African Orphan Crops consortium (AOCC), a primary partner of the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy. The AOCC was featured in the BBC News video "Can these super-crops feed Africa?" View Video
  • Boston Startup Hopes Its Seeds Will Help Farmers Cope with Climate Change Indigo Agriculture is trying to tackle the problem of extreme growing conditions with a microscopic solution by working to create drought-resistant seeds coated with tiny microbes. Read more
  • Kent Bradford speaks to China's attitudes towards GMOs during interview by CGTN America's Rachelle Akuffo. Watch INTERVIEW
  • ASTA President & CEO Andy LaVigne testified before the U.S. House Agriculture Committee regarding The Next Farm Bill: Technology & Innovation in Specialty Crops. Read more
  • Illumina generously donates one of its most powerful sequencers, the HiSeq 4000 Sequencing System, to enable the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC) to complete its crop sequencing project. Read more and view VIDEO
  • Wal-Mart and Bayer team up to create "Sweet Spark", a designer cantaloupe
    that may be as delectable as summer. Read more
  • In CSA News online, SBC Director Kent Bradford and UCD researcher Pedro Bello discuss recent publication in Agricultural & Environmental Letters, focusing on the relationship between seed moisture content and relative humidity. Read more
  • SBC Plant Breeding Academy congratulates David Stelly, a long-term PBA lecturer and contributor, received the 2017 International Cotton Advisory Committee Researcher of the Year Award.
  • SBC proposal ranks in Top 200 for 100 & Change MacArthur Foundation competition This competition awards a $100 million grant to fund a single proposal that will make measurable progress toward solving a significant problem. Read more
  • Distinguished professor and SBC director Kent Bradford was an invited keynote at the 2nd Pakistan Seed Congress, held at the University of Agriculture in Falsalabad (UAF). Read more
  • Craig Newman joins Seed Business 101 team of instructors. Mr. Newman is the former President & CEO of AgReliant Genetics, the third largest corn seed company in the U.S.

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