PBR-21803 Pre-breeding


Credits 3.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper1
Group work3
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. JC Goud
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. HJ van Eck
dr. C Kik
dr. HWM Hilhorst
dr. ir. JC Goud
dr. SPC Groot
Examiner(s)dr. ir. JC Goud

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Assumed knowledge is simple Mendelian genetics. A logical combination is to follow course PBR-22303 Plant Breeding as well, either before or during the same period (4), although this is not a prerequisite.


Note: This course can not be combined in an individual programme with PBR-33803 Germplasm and Seed Technology and/or PBR-32803 Markers in Genetics and Plant Breeding.

In contrast to PBR-22303 Plant Breeding, which deals with the central part of plant breeding (genotype and phenotype, selection methods), this course PBR-21803 deals with the 'front- end' and the 'back-end' of plant breeding. Front-end subjects treated include various aspects, often collectively indicated as 'pre-breeding'. These include the domestication of plants, the gene pool concept, and germplasm development. Also, the importance of gene banks for storing and using genetic diversity present in wild material and landraces is treated. Inevitably, this also includes the discussion on ownership of biodiversity and the effects of international legislation about ownership.
Back- end subjects also include legislation aspects, such as breeders' rights and patents. Seed quality in an important back-end aspect of plant breeding, because often the seeds make up the product that will be sold. But also for gene banks (front-end), seed quality and seed storage conditions are of utmost importance, because dead seed implies that genetic material is lost, sometimes forever.
In addition, part of the course is dedicated to the concept of marker-assisted selection. The application of molecular markers is an important tool to make breeding programs more efficient, but markers may also be used to describe genetic diversity of plant populations and to test the identity and purity of lines. An important pre-breeding application of marker-assisted selection is the efficient selection for desired genes from wild material, while simultaneously selecting against all undesired wild genes.
Thus, the course has a mixture of technical and societal/legislative aspects, all of which are important aspects of modern plant breeding. Together with the course PBR-22303 Plant Breeding it provides a comprehensive introduction to plant breeding.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- explain the theory of domestication and, the gene pool concept;
- understand the process of pre-breeding/germplasm development;
- explain the importance of gene banks and explain how they work;
- explain and discuss the principles of breeders' rights and patents;
- understand how seed production programs are designed;
- understand the most important aspects of seed quality, and how these aspects may be improved;
- understand the concepts of genetic markers and how they are applied in plant breeding, especially for the quick introgression of genes from wild material;
- analyse genetic segregations, including cases where genetic linkage occurs.


The course is a mixture of in-class and online study. Information that is offered in lectures is also offered in the form of self-study material, so in principle, with some more difficulty, the course can also be followed as self-study.
In-class activities.
- lectures on pre-breeding, germplasm and domestication, gene banks, and breeders' rights and patents, seed quality, and marker-assisted selection;
- group discussion and presentations on issues concerning breeders' rights and patents;
- question hours;
Self-study (online) activities (with deadlines!)
- read a book chapter and a research paper;
- answer a set of questions on a research paper, and peer-review;
- study e-module;
- watch dvd/youtube movie and answer questions;
- watch knowledge clips and hand-in assignments: active participation in online activities;
- use the Blackboard discussion forum to raise and answer questions on the content.


- written test with open and closed questions (90%); minimum mark is 5.5;
- assignments and discussions (10%).


In principle, all of the information is in the offered materials, so an extra study book is not necessary.
For background information and a different explanation of the material, and especially if you want to specialize in plant breeding, we recommend the following book: Acquaah (2012). Principles of Plant Genetics and Breeding. 2nd ed. ISBN 9780470664759.

Restricted Optional for: MPSPlant SciencesMScD: Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources4AF
MPBPlant BiotechnologyMScC: Molecular Plant Breeding and Pathology4AF
Compulsory for: WUEPSBSc Minor Experimental Plant Sciences4AF
WUPBRBSc Minor Plant Breeding4AF