PBA in Europe – Class VII

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European Plant Breeding Academy - Class VII

EPBA Class VII has begun so applications are closed.
Stay tuned for information about our next EPBA class.

Building on the success of the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy in the United States, UC Davis is partnering with European institutions and associations to offer Class VII of the European Plant Breeding Academy. This premier training program targets working professionals who desire to become fully trained plant breeders. The course totals 36 days in length--the longest course of its kind in Europe. Participants will meet for six, 6-day sessions over two years. This schedule will allow participants to maintain their current employment while enrolled in the course. All instruction will be in English.

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 locations and dates:

(While we expect to be able to hold all sessions in person, dates and session format are tentative and contingent upon global pandemic situation at that time)


Year 1
October 3-8, 2022 – Enkhuizen, Netherlands
March 6-11, 2023 – Angers, France
June 19-24, 2023 – Gatersleben, Germany

Year 2

October 16-21, 2023 – Gent, Belgium
March 11-16, 2024 – Almeria, Spain
June 24-28, 2024 – Davis, CA


Applications & 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.

Tuition: (All EPBA pricing is in Euros)  The cost of participating is 21,000 Euros (or 20,000 Euros if you apply before April 1, 2022 EXTENDED TO JUNE 1!), which includes all course materials and fees, along with lunches and breaks during the six sessions. Additional tours of seed research and production facilities will also be incorporated into each session. The tours are designed to balance the classroom instruction with seed and agricultural industry experiences in each of the five host countries. Travel, accommodations and other meals during in-residence sessions are not included. A non-refundable deposit of 1,000 Euros will be due within 30 days of acceptance into the Academy, and will be applied toward tuition.

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.


EPBA Instructors & Curriculum:

The UC Davis European Plant Breeding Academy is designed to balance lectures, discussions, workshops and field trips with commercial breeders to enhance the experience across breeding systems, crops and countries.

Primary Instructors: 

  • Dr. Alexandra Tomerius (AIB)
  • Dr. Rita Mumm (University of Illinois)
  • Dr. Jovan Djordjevic (UC Davis)
  • Dr. Allen Van Deynze (UC Davis)
  • Dr. Kent Bradford (UC Davis)
  • Dr. Robert Dirks (Managerial Genetics Consulting)

Learn More About the EPBA Instructors 

Guest Instructors (partial list)

  • Dr. Bruce Walsh (University of Arizona)
  • Dr. Roger Chetelat (UC Davis)
  • Dr. Charles Brummer (UC Davis)
  • Contribution by numerous scientists and breeders in host countries (partial list here)

The curriculum is being developed by instructors with input from industry leaders. The following topics will be covered during each course:

Introduction to plant breeding

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


  • Probabilities
  • Analysis of variance
  • Mean separations
  • Linear regression
  • Analysis of covariance
  • Experimental designs


  • Transmission genetics
  • Population genetics (HW, selection, migration, mutation)
  • Inbreeding
  • Quantitative genetics model
  • Breeding value
  • Covariance among relatives
  • Theory of heterosis

Selection theory

  • Heritability
  • Principles of selection and the gain equation
  • Extension to relevant selection models

Recombination and population development

  • Selection limits
  • Effective population size
  • Linkage drag
  • Fixing favorable alleles
  • Polyploidy
  • Interspecific hybridization

Selection methods

  • Single trait selection: mass selection, line selection, multiple stage selection
  • Multiple trait selection: independent culling, tandem selection, selection indices
  • Indirect selection methods: theory
  • Linkage disequilibrium
  • Indirect selection methods: conventional breeding

Establishing and monitoring goals and priorities

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

Breeding methods

  • Line Breeding: bulk, pedigree, backcross
  • Population improvement
  • Inbred line development
  • Evaluating hybrids and combining ability

Breeding with Molecular Markers

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

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)
  • Reverse breeding
  • Mechanization in plant breeding
  • Counter season nurseries
  • High throughput phenotyping
  • Data management

Finishing varieties

  • Cultivars vs hybrids
  • Protecting varieties and intellectual property
  • Seed certification
  • Seed production, biology and quality

Advanced module (optional)

  • Multivariate selection
  • Linear and mixed models
  • BLUPs
  • Advanced genomic selection
  • Advanced experimental designs

If you have specific questions about the curriculum covered in EPBA, please contact SBC Director of Education, 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