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Crop Science Abstract - OPINION & POLICY

The Future of Plant Breeding


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 46 No. 4, p. 1630-1634
    Received: Dec 24, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): plgepts@ucdavis.edu
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  1. Paul Gepts *a and
  2. Jim Hancockb
  1. a Dep. of Plant Sciences/MS1, Section of Crop & Ecosystem Sciences, Univ. of California, 1 Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616-8515
    b Dep. of Horticulture, Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI 48824-1325


A symposium was hosted 10 to 11 Mar. 2005 at Michigan State University to discuss the future of plant breeding education at public institutions. Plant breeding remains a vibrant, multidisciplinary science characterized by its ability to reinvent itself by absorbing and utilizing novel scientific findings and technical approaches. A contemporary breeding curriculum should include hands-on experience with the inheritance and selection of complex traits in actual plant populations, basic biology of plants (reproductive biology, Mendelian genetics), principles of quantitative genetics and selection theory, principles and practice of plant breeding and related sciences such as genomics, applied statistics, experimental design, and pest sciences. Plant breeding education should also comprise several professional skills, including knowledge of other languages, business management, and intellectual property rights. The private sector should play an increased role in the plant breeding. There is also a need for alternative types of training in plant breeding geared toward working breeders and farmers. Additional support for plant breeding education programs may come from the private sector and the federal government. With regard to specialty crops, increased support for research and education may result from a focus on the unique features of these crops. Finally, it is important to cultivate public awareness of the accomplishments of plant breeding.

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