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

September 2015 eNews

Greetings from the SBC!

News and Events

SBC publishes annual report to celebrate 15 years
The SBC is thrilled to report the release of our 2014 report to celebrate our 15th year. This report includes a graphical depiction of the fifteen years as well as the importance of sustaining the SBC with industry partnerships. Thanks to Matthew Johnston, CEO  HM.Clause, for contributing his comments on this topic and for his leadership role to provide the first gift to the Kent J. Bradford endowment. Sustaining the SBC means that we will continue to provide our research, education and outreach programs to address our stakeholder’s needs. If you think of other helpful activities that we can do, please contact Susan DiTomaso at

A special thanks to Donna Van Dolah and Julie Tillman for creating this terrific report.

The Kent J. Bradford Endowment
Great news!  In March we were delighted to receive the first gift to the endowment from HM.Clause and Limagrain. Their generous gift of $500,000 is a very important start to the campaign. Last week during our first Seed Central event of the year, we were pleased to announce the following new gifts:

$25,000 – Cloverseed, Hong Kong, China

$15,000 – Barbara and Kent Bradford, Davis, California, US

The establishment of an 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. An endowment will ensure that the seed industry’s needs for academic research, education and public service can continue to be met in perpetuity. The SBC is thankful for these exciting gifts.

For more information or to contribute to our goal, contact Martha Ozonoff at

The Collaboration for Plant Pathogen Strain Identification (CPPSI) is established at the SBC
The CPPSI aims to provide the scientific community with differential plant host sets with verified disease resistance reactions, reference plant pathogen strains and races and instructional guidance to standardize the identification of plant pathogen strains and claims of disease resistance. Until now, an entity to coordinate these plant host and reference plant pathogen strain resources in the United States did not exist. The immediate market for CPPSI products and services is the vegetable seed industry and initial funding by this market sector confirmed the potential value of CPPSI. Organizations and systems to address the consistent identification of plant pathogen strains and races and provide standard differential host sets are in existence in Europe where they facilitate consistency in claims of disease resistance. CPPSI US efforts have and will continue to coordinate with European organizations to complement existing systems and harmonize claims of disease resistance between the US and Europe.

For more information, please visit or contact Dr. Phyllis Himmel.

Meet Dr. Phyllis Himmel
Dr. Himmel joined the UCD Seed Biotechnology Center in July 2015 to lead the seed industry funded Collaboration for the Identification of Plant Pathogen Strains (CPPSI). She brings 25 years of experience in disease resistance discovery and development, research leadership, product discovery and development in the Agricultural Sciences. Phyllis received her MS and PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of Arizona. After a 3 year USDA/ARS Post Doc researching WSBMV in hard red winter wheat at the University of Illinois, Phyllis joined the Asgrow (later Seminis, Monsanto) Vegetable Seed Company as a research pathologist. She established and led a program to identify and develop resistance in vegetables to viral pathogens, eventually leading the global pathology team of 64 scientists and staff as Director of Research Pathology. While at Marrone Bio Innovations, Phyllis held personnel and product management roles in the discovery and development of plant and microbe based biopesticides. 

Seed Central/Food Central 
On September 10, 2015 Jose Kawashima, CEO of MiCafeto Coffee Company presented, “What makes the quality of coffee?” A diverse group thoroughly enjoyed his presentation which also included a coffee tasting. Mark you calenders for the second Thursday in Davis on October 8 starting at 4:30. The presenter, David Clifford, is from The Climate Corporation. Note that on October 22, a second event occurs in Salinas starting at 11:30. This program features Dr. Carl Winter, CE Food Toxicologist, Food Science and Technology, UC Davis.  Please mark your calendars. For details see Seed Central.

UC Davis Plant Breeding Center
This Center publishes monthly newsletters to keep you current with their activities. Each month a student is highlighted.  This month you can hear from Joshua Hegarty,”The Dubcovsky lab unveils a gene that governs wheat vernalization.” For more on this story and other activities see the September 2015 PBC Newsletter or go to       

Julie Tillman
Meet Julie Tillman
Julie brings to the SBC a diverse professional background encompassing both biological science research and computer/design technology. After receiving a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Nevada and postdoctoral positions at the Universities of Nevada and Minnesota, she pursued a long-held interest in web technology. In 2002 she launched web site design and management sole proprietorship TillSey Web Design, where she developed and managed web sites for clients throughout northern California. Since joining the SBC in the spring of 2015, she has provided the center with general computer and technology support, including graphic/print design, web site management, videography, and photography. She will also be assisting center staff with event, course, and conference coordination and management.

In the News

The SBC created a spot on their website to catalogue some of our outreach efforts. The following is a sample of our most recent posting: New GMO Controversy: Are the Herbicides Dangerous? Dr. Kent Bradford discusses.” For a complete list go to In the News.


Plant Breeding Academy
The next class of the European Plant Breeding Academy starts in October 2015.Registration is still open for the remaining couple of spots in the class. Class IV’s first session will meet in Enkuizen, The Netherlands. For more information on the Plant Breeding Academy contact Joy Patterson at or visit PBA.

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 PBA Advanced Module
Responding to the demand of the plant breeding community, the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy is offering the first open enrollment Advanced Module course.  The class will take place in Davis, CA, November 3-5, 2015.  The module is designed to review the breeding strategies in context of the modern tools and build the necessary backgroundtowardsunderstandingandpracticalapplicationofBLUPs, genomic selection, and much more. UC Davis instructors will be joined by Bruce Walsh, University of Arizona, to deliver this module.

For more information and registration please go to Advanced Module or contact Joy Patterson at

Seed Business 101
SB101 is offered by the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center.  It was created with input from industry executives to accelerate the careers of promising new employees and young managers. The course, offered since fall of 2010, has already been attended by close to 350 seed professionals.

  • Field Crops: The next session will be offered in Chicago, IL, on December 4-8, 2015, organized in conjunction with the American Seed Trade Association Corn & Sorghum Seed Research Conference (December 7-11, 2015).  This program is open for registration. The early-bird rate ends on October 2, 2015
  • Horticulture - Davis: The next offering will be on December 7-12, 2015 at UC Davis. The early-bird for this program ends on October 23, 2015.

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  • Horticulture – Thailand: This new session will be on February 22-26, 2016 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The early-bird ends on November 27, 2015. For details, testimonials and registration please visit SB101 or contact Rebeca Madrigal at

Breeding with Genomics

The 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. It includes a hands-on workshop on software support to marker application in breeding programs including the Integrated Breeding Platform and BLUPS. This course is on February 16 – 18, 2016 at UC Davis. The early-bird rate ends December 15, 2015.

For details, contact Sally Mohr at

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Seed Production

This course focuses on the biological, genetic, agronomic and technological processes and practices involved in the production and processing of agricultural seeds and how they influence seed quality. The intent of seed production programs is to obtain the highest possible yield, consistent with simultaneously maintaining the highest possible quality. In order to achieve these dual objectives, it is important to understand the genetic and biological basis of seed production of modern cultivars and how seed quality is affected by the management practices utilized. The program will also cover the postharvest conditioning processes and seed technology treatments that can enhance seed quality. The course is targeted to professionals in the seed industry who wish to learn the latest practices and developments in these topics. The course is taught by experts from both academia and the seed industry and will focus primarily on horticultural crops as well as selected agronomic crops (sunflower, alfalfa, canola). The content will be delivered through lectures, case studies and group discussions. This class is on February 2 – 5, 2016 at UC Davis. Registration and course details are at

For details contact Rebeca Madrigal at

Upcoming Meetings

Save the dates for the following SBC hosted events:

  • Solanaceae Conference, September 12 – 15, 2016, UC Davis, California
  • International Society for Seed Science Conference, September 10 – 15, 2017, Monterey, California

For more information about the SBC, please contact


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