Seed Production & Plant Breeding


Provide background in seed biology, seed technology and seed quality control and the latest developments in these fields. Provide hands on experience of conducting germination experiments and analyzing the outcome with respect to natural variation and the effect of seed enhancement methods. Provide an introduction to the use of genomics tools to analyse and improve seed quality. Provide sufficient background to be able to address diverse questions in relation with the research on several aspects of seed biology. Present the basic principles and methods employed in plant breeding towards the development of varieties suitable to a sustainable agricultural production system. Provide background information on the methods currently considered as appropriate  in organic plant breeding Provide background information on legislation and procedures employed in variety identification and official registration


BSc knowledge in botany, genetics, and plant biology and basic biometry

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, students should be able to: Demonstrate a working knowledge of seed biology, seed quality and seed testing; Understand the latest developments in the different seed science fields Perform and evaluate germination tests Use the acquainted knowledge to address questions in relation to the research on several aspects of seed biology, especially with respect to seed quality improvement and testing. Comprehend well the plant breeding methodology, with emphasis in improving yield stability, durability of resistance to plant pathogens and variety's worthiness under a low-input agriculture Classify which technologies are and which are not allowed in the various stages of breeding for varieties to be used in organic agriculture systems Have an adequate knowledge of the UPOV guidelines in conducting tests for distinctness, uniformity and stability ( necessary for listing and variety protection) and methodologies for variety identification


- Seed Biology: Seed anatomy, seed development, germination, water relations during germination, seed maturation and dormancy, desiccation tolerance, orthodox and recalcitrant seeds, seeds and biodiversity, seed compositions (reserve compounds) - Seed quality: Improvement of seed quality by plant breeding and modern genomics techniques, priming and sorting, different ways of seed storage, influence of storage on seed quality, seed health, detection of pathogens on seeds, seed production for organic farming - Seed testing: Ways on how to address seed quality: measurement of seed germination characteristics, use of Germinator program to measure germination characteristics, different ways of testing the vigor of seed lots, prediction of the storage life of seeds, use of ‘high tech’ tests like microarray analysis, proteomics, fluorescence sorting, immuno-fluorescence. - The role of genetic variation in plant breeding : phenotypic and genotypic changes during domestication, early selection era, empirical breeding and modern science- based breeding. Gains and losses. Germplasm sources. The gene pool concept and its exploitation. - Short overview of the main breeding methods in relation to the reproduction mode, i.e. for autogamous, allogamous and clonally propagated species. Traits related to sustainability. - Breeding for adaptation: the GxE interaction and challenge, abiotic stresses, MET trials. Breeding for diversity. A critical comparison of the two mainstream approaches(CIMMYT and ICARDA) in breeding for low-input agriculture. - Breeding for durable resistance: selecting for quantitative resistance, selecting for qualitative (monogenic) resistances and pyramiding or stacking them in a single genotype, producing variety mixtures and multilines. - Designing and interpreting DUS tests for the various types of varieties. Variety identification: classical taxonomic approaches, computerized image analysis, biochemical methods (secondary compounds, protein and DNA molecular markers).

Content Delivery

Content delivery This component course combines learning through lectures as well as through practicum working alone (homework) and as a team (working groups) to give them the opportunity of collaboration. The teaching methodology employed is a standard one comprised of class lectures with the aid of power point presentations, specific examples encouraging attendees to raise question to be discussed and answered in the class and providing complete studying material (in the form of book chapters and critical scientific publications on all taught subjects).  

Coursework And Assignment Details

Course work and assignment details ·        The assessment will be a written examination on the material covered in the course. The written examination will be (80%) of the total grade.  A homework doing by working groups (20%) ·        The aim/ learning outcome of this examination is that the students should be able to proof that they understand the principles of plant breeding and relation to seed production & technology.The assessment will be a written examination about all the material that is covered in the course For this examination they should know the material as it was presented during the course (the powerpoint files).