PBA in Davis – Class VIII

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Plant Breeding Academy - Class VIII


The Seed Biotechnology Center at the University of California, Davis has organized a professional development course to teach the principles of plant breeding to seed industry personnel. This two-year course addresses the reduced numbers of plant breeders being trained in academic programs. Participants meet at UC Davis for six sessions over two years. Readings and exercises continue between sessions online to allow participants to maintain their current positions while being involved in the course. 

Course goal: This course develops the skills and abilities of current industry personnel to enable them to become independent breeders or more valuable contributors to larger breeding programs.

Who should attend? The course is targeted toward personnel currently involved in plant breeding programs who lack the academic background in genetics theory and practice to advance as independent breeders. Current breeders who desire a refresher course or would like to broaden their expertise would also be potential participants.

Class Location & Dates:

All six sessions of the PBA VIII course will take place in Davis, California, mostly on the UC Davis campus. 

Due to COVID-19 delays, instruction for Class VIII of the Plant Breeding Academy will begin in February 2022 and the class will graduate in September 2023.

Revised PBA VIII Dates:

February 7-12, 2022
June 6-11, 2022
September 12-17, 2022

February 6-11, 2023
June 5-10, 2023
September 11-15, 2023


Application & Tuition:

Application Process: To provide a personalized learning environment, the program is limited to 20 participants. Applicants should complete the online form and separately email a resume in order to be considered for enrollment. Applicants' background and experience will be reviewed to ensure they meet the minimal requirements before acceptance. Applicants must have a Bachelor of Science degree (or demonstrate equivalent professional experience) and have taken introductory courses in statistics and genetics. Practical experience, academic standing (GPA or equivalent) and rationale for participation in the Academy will be evaluated. Among applicants meeting the program requirements, acceptance will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Acceptance is not secured until paperwork is signed and the deposit is received.

UPDATE: Due to date changes, the early registration discount has been extended to September 1, 2021. 

Tuition: (All pricing is in United States Dollar) Tuition is $24,000 per participant for the two-year program (or $23,000 if you apply before September 1, 2021). Tuition includes all course materials and fees.  Lunches and breaks during residence in Davis are provided.  Travel, accommodations and other meals during in-residence sessions are not included.  A non-refundable deposit of $1,000 will be due within 30 days of acceptance into the Academy.

An invoice requesting the balance of the first year's tuition (half of the total tuition, after the deposit is paid) will be sent minimum three months prior to the start of the course. The second tuition payment will be due prior to the start of the second year. Exact due dates will be listed on your invoice document. No refunds will be issued after a payment is made. Payment procedures will be provided to applicants following acceptance into the Academy.

PBA Instructors & Curriculum:

Instructors: Primary instructors will teach the core of the course and speakers who are specialists in specific topics will be invited. All are recognized leaders in their fields.

Primary instructors:
Dr. Kendra Armstrong, 
42 Ag Genetics, LLC

Dr. Jay Patel, former Research Fellow, Corteva
Dr. Kent Bradford, UC Davis
Dr. Jovan Djordjevic, UC Davis
Dr. Allen Van Deynze, UC Davis

Learn More About The PBA Instructors

Invited speakers (partial list):

  • Dr. Richard Michelmore (UC Davis)
  • Dr. Paul Gepts (UC Davis)
  • Dr. David Francis (Ohio State)
  • Dr. Jim Holland (NC State)
  • Dr. David Stelly (Texas A&M)
  • Dr. Dave Douches (Michigan State Univeristy)

Curriculum: The curriculum is developed by instructors with input from industry leaders. The following topics will be covered:

Introduction to plant breeding

  • Plant breeding objectives
  • Germplasm resources and pools
  • Crop evolution
  • Reproductive systems


  • Distributions and Probabilities
  • Mean separation, t-tests
  • Sources of variation
  • Analysis of variance
  • Multiple mean separations
  • Advanced designs: unbalanced, non-replicated and augmented


  • Transmission genetics
  • Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium
  • Inbreeding coefficients
  • Quantitative genetics model
  • Inbreeding depression and hybrid vigor

Selection theory

  • Principles of selection and the gain equation
  • Heritability and extensions to relevant selection models
  • Use of block corrections in selection

Recombination and population development

  • Selection limits
  • Linkage drag
  • Recombination in inbred lines and populations
  • Polyploidy
  • Interspecific hybridization
  • Population size

Establishing and monitoring goals and priorities

  • Population improvement vs cultivar development
  • Minimum standards, intermediate optima, and directional response

Breeding methods 1

  • Line Breeding: bulk, pedigree, backcross

Selection methods 1

  • Single trait selection: mass selection, line selection, multiple stage selection

Breeding methods 2

  • Population improvement
  • Inbred line development
  • Evaluating hybrids and combining ability

Selection methods 2

  • Multiple trait selection: independent culling, tandem selection,  selection indices
  • Indirect selection methods: theory
  • Linkage disequilibrium
  • Indirect selection methods: conventional breeding

Breeding with Molecular Markers

  • Bases and availability of markers
  • Population structure
  • Parental selection
  • QTL
  • Bioinformatics/Databases
  • Marker assisted selection and backcrossing
  • Genome assisted breeding

Genotype by environment interactions

  • GxE and decisions in population development
  • Genetic correlation: treatment of GxE
  • Selection environment: single vs multiple environments
  • Designs to control GxE
  • Variance component analysis

Breeding systems

  • Breeding for hybrids
  • Genetic control of pollination: sex expression, self-incompatibility, male sterility
  • Breeding cultivars
  • Breeding clones
  • Breeding populations (synthetics)

Resistance breeding

  • Diseases
  • Insects
  • Abiotic stress

Special topics

  • Mutation breeding
  • Biotechnology (transgenic)
  • Mechanization
  • Off season nurseries
  • Data management

Finishing varieties

  • Cultivars vs hybrids
  • Protecting varieties and intellectual property.

If you have specific questions about the PBA curriculum, please reach out to Education Director, Jovan Djordjevic at jdjordjevic@ucdavis.edu 

For more information about the Plant Breeding Academy, contact Whitney Lowe at wlowe@ucdavis.edu or you can learn more about the PBA program including past classes on the Plant Breeding Academy website

Thank you for your interest but Class VIII applications are closed. 

Check back soon for information on PBA Class IX.