PLNT*6100 Advanced Plant Breeding I

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The following description is for the course offering in Winter 2023 and is subject to change. It is provided for information only. The course outline distributed to the class at the beginning of the semester describes the course content and delivery, and defines the methods and criteria to be used in establishing the final grades for the course.

The practical consideration of genetic theory and biological limitations to improving plant populations and developing cultivars will be discussed. Current and emerging breeding methodologies and sources of variation used to achieve plant breeding goals will be examined through lectures, paper discussion, site visits and invited talks.


Teaching Assistant:

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Graduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Winter

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to WebAdvisor for class schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

At the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand pollination biology as it relates to plant breeding methods
  2. Understand the concept of genotype x environment interaction, its impact on plant breeding programs, and how to manage it
  3. Determine breeding methods appropriate for different plant species and traits
  4. Identify the regulations surrounding plant breeding, seed production, and variety development
  5. Understand priorities of a private breeding program
  6. Understand the theory and application of molecular markers in plant breeding
  7. Critically analyze scientific articles related to plant breeding methods and approaches
  8. Understand and perform calculations related to plant population dynamics
  9. Communicate aspects of plant breeding theory and practice to your peers

Lecture Content:

  • To educate students in applying genetic techniques, statistical methods, breeding principles and methods to efficiently create and advance populations of plants from which there is a high probability of selecting superior cultivars or hybrids.
  • To provide exposure to public and/or private breeding programs.
  • To provide opportunities for continued learning, critical questioning, discussion of research findings, communication and development of personal and team work skills.

The course is designed to enhance the students’ ability to identify, develop, evaluate, and utilize breeding populations as improved germplasm and a source of new, improved cultivars. As a graduate-level course in plant breeding, it is assumed that students have a basic working knowledge of plant breeding principles, Mendelian genetics, classical evolutionary theory, quantitative genetics, agronomy, plant biology, statistics, and plant pathology.

Course topics (not necessarily in order):
  1. History of Plant Breeding, Modes of Reproduction and Modifications (CMS, GMS, SI, CHA)
  2. Mendelian Genetics and beyond (inheritance, linkage, epistasis, polyploidy, pleiotropy)
  3. Overview of Breeding Methods and Objectives 
  4. Application of Molecular Tools to plant breeding
  5. Field trip*
  6. Genotype x Environment Interaction (models and software)
  7. Oral Mid-term Examination
  8. Biochemistry and breeding for Value-Added Traits
  9. Breeding for Abiotic Stresses (adaptation)
  10. Breeding of new, emerging, and unique crops
  11. Breeding for Biotic Stresses (resistance to pests and diseases)
  12. Pedigreed seed production, QMS, IP/contract production

​​​​​​​*Field trip:  Place and Date TBD

Labs & Seminars:

There are no labs or seminars scheduled for this course.

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignment or Test Contribution to Final Mark Learning Outcomes Assessed

Class participation during lectures and paper discussion

25% 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9
Mid-term oral exam 25%

1, 2, 3, 6

Written report on a private breeding program



Plant breeding term paper


1, 2, 3, 4, 6

Final examination:

There is no final examination scheduled for this course.

Course Resources:

Required Texts:

None – class notes will be provided on CourseLink for each lecture.

Recommended Texts:
  • Fehr, W.R. 1987. Principles of Cultivar Development, Vol. 1 and 2, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1987
  • Poehlman and Sleper. 1995. Breeding Field Crops, 5th edition, Wiley-Blackwell
  • Oil Crops. 2010. Eds. J. Vollmann and I. Rajcan, Handbook of Plant Breeding, Vol. 4, Springer, Springer, Dordrecht Heidelberg London New York
  • Principles of plant breeding. 1999. 2nd ed. Allard, R. W. (Robert Wayne), 1919-2003. J. Wiley, New York
Lab Manual:


Other Resources:


Field Trips:


Additional Costs:


Course Policies:

Grading Policies:

All students are expected to read and prepare for weekly discussion of primary journal articles as their participation will be assessed weekly for a cumulative participation mark of 25%.

There will be a penalty for late submission of work at 10% of the grade for the assignment for each day of delay, except in cases of illness or emergency that will have to be documented.

Course Policy on Group Work: 

There are no group assignments.

Course Policy regarding use of electronic devices and recording of lectures:

Electronic recording of classes is expressly forbidden without consent of the instructor.  When recordings are permitted they are solely for the use of the authorized student and may not be reproduced, or transmitted to others, without the express written consent of the instructor.

Other Course Information:

University Policies

Academic Consideration

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The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the University Calenders:


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