Plant Breeding Education

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					Plant Breeding Education

  How do we educate another
  generation of Plant Breeders?
Public Plant Breeding
 Have Trained/Educated almost all current
  plant breeders.
 Number and size of programs is in near-
  universal decline—DRIVEN BY FUNDING
 Is this the necessary model? Can we
  educate plant breeders effectively without
  operating public breeding programs?
 Can we support breeding programs in
  sufficient numbers in MAJOR crops?
Funding Decreases
 State funding—Plant Breeding, university
  funding in general being crowded out by
  Medicaid, Medicare, K-12 Education
 Federal funding—being crowded out by
  Defense, Medicare, Medicaid, Social
 Financial Collapse/Recession forcing cuts in
  state budgets, flat-line Federal budgets
Funding Increases
 NSF—willing to fund only basic science,
  especially if research publishable in
  Science, Nature
 NIH—molecular work general enough to be
  basic, or will apply to plants, animals,
 Commercial contracts, investments in a few
  specific programs
 “Orphan” crops where there is a
WHO we educate
 FEWER farm/rural students, more urban
  people, often don’t hold agriculture in high
 Universities need help recruiting students
  at all degree levels.
 Commercial companies need help recruiting
  students, interns, permanent employees.
NEED to recruit students from biology,
  engineering, basic sciences!!!!
Is Plant Breeding Training a
Replacement for PB Education?
 Some evidence of proliferation of short
  courses—Univ. of California, Wageningen
 Tend to attract B.S. level technicians, teach
  hands on skills, but seldom higher level
  thinking, art with less science.
 LOTS of informal training by professionals,
  turn technicians into students!
Plant Breeding EDUCATION
 Needs to take place in context of
  active breeding program!
 M.S. and Ph.D. are RESEARCH
 We may need to re-think how and
  where the research and formal
  education take place.
 Perhaps NOT necessary to do both in
  the University setting!
Disciplines—Most are the same as
40 years ago
   Mendelian/transmission genetics
   Cytogenetics, cell biology
   Plant pathology/entomology/weed science
   Statistics and Experimental Design
   Quantitative Genetics, Population Genetics
   Botany, plant & crop physiology
   CROP PRODUCTION for urban students
New & Necessary
Re-Connect with Basic Science
 Molecular Genetics
 Applied Genomics Technologies
 Transgene biology/cell culture
 Crop Evolution / Molecular Systematics
 Intellectual Property Rights, Regulatory
 Database/Software Proficiency
 Written/Oral Communication/Teamwork
 Multi-Lingual !!??!!
Molecular Plant Breeders?
 Intra-University competition for resources
  and students!
 LOTS of talk about “precision” plant
  breeding modification via molecular
  biology, modification/insertion of genes
 Field Experience tends to be lacking among
  scientists making most aggressive claims.
 We share lots of tools with molecular
  biology, but are applied with different
Plant Breeding is an Integration of
Many Disciplines
 Engineering may be most apt model
  in education.
 Regardless how much cutting edge
  Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics,
  Materials Science is done, we still
  need to teach how to integrate these
  various disciplines into a useful and
  coherent product—roads, bridges,
  dams,electronic devices, substances.
 Many programs still viable, especially
  “minor” crops that aren’t viable for
  commercial companies—many forages,
  wheat, squash, dry beans, etc.
 It isn’t necessary to “train” in the crop you
  will be employed to breed. However, it
  may require additional information, maybe
  offered at other universities, or on the job
Commercial Company as Partner
 Universities need to help recruit
  bright students to intern as breeding
  assistants (longer than a summer!)
 Commercial companies may allow
  bright assistants partial/full release to
  pursue graduate degrees—Research
  done at/with company, education
  through university—STAN JENSEN
Commercial SUPPORT
 May involve financial support of project
 May involve sharing research trials
 May involve sharing of data, phenotypic
  and marker under secure coded system
 GRA’s
 Perhaps in corn we will need to work full
  cooperation, all research done at/with/by
 FEW universities will be able to retain
  enough breeders, other professionals
  to offer a full range of courses.
 Perhaps it is better to have a couple
  of choices, have on-line courses
  taught by the best people in areas.
 Module system of 1 or 2 hours
  courses in LOTS of different areas,
  rather than traditional courses.
Continuing Education
 Applied Genomics Techniques
   Transcriptomics
   Proteomics
   Metabolomics

 New Statistical Techniques
   Partial Least Squares for fitting “too
    many variables” models
 Whole Genome Selection Techniques
Cooperative Model?
 We may need USDA plant breeding
  professionals to help with teaching. May be
  the “easiest” support to get from the
  Federal Government!
 We may need to “consolidate” schools.
  Offer some courses, trade students, faculty
  on others. ISU—UN-L vet school program.
 With consolidated seed industry, there is
  less political clout in most states to get
  state/university support.
Results of GEM Survey and Education
of Public Plant Breeders, Use of GEM
Materials & Impact

 Researchers were queried about how
  GEM Project germplasm or funding
  has contributed to their research
  objectives, or to the training of the
  future scientists that they mentor.
 Researchers responded that GEM
  germplasm had contributed to their
  research objectives in many ways, and in
  particular has been used in many graduate
  research projects which have been well-
In addition, use of exotic-derived GEM
germplasm with traits not found in maize
of temperate origin enabled Iowa State
University’s Grain Quality Traits Lab
(Charles Hurburgh and colleagues) to
extend their NIRS calibration for maize
starch, oil and protein.
 Of particular interest were how the GEM
  Specific Cooperative Agreement
  researchers leveraged their resources to
  provide for germplasm development, basic
  and applied research, and the number of
  graduate and undergraduate students that
  have been involved.
   13 Ph.D. programs completed (seven
    working directly in plant breeding or
    closely allied science; two of these are
    now plant breeding and genetics faculty)
   4 Ph.D. programs in progress
   1 post-doctoral program completed
   8 M.S. programs completed (five working
    directly in plant breeding or closely allied
    science; three pursuing advanced degrees
    in plant breeding)
   3 M.S. programs in progress

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