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Adaptation and Resilience in Plant Breeding

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NOVA PhD course of 4 ECTS, organised by Prof. Rodomiro Ortiz, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).
Course dates and location: 11-16 June 2017 in Umeå, Sweden.

Course Description
Genetic basis of local climatic adaptation to stressful environments. This calls for strategies to maximize yield stability, which is the ability of an ecological system to return to an equilibrium state with as little fluctuations as possible after a temporary disturbance, and resilience. Resilience refers to the ability of a system to absorb changes and persist the relationships within a system through maintaining flexibility, which requires cultivars to cope with unpredictable and varying growing conditions within one growing season through multiple strategies. Cultivars need to be able to respond flexibly in uptake and use mechanisms to fluctuating growing conditions. The course focuses on studying genetics for adaptation and resilience, and translating these abilities into breeding goals that can support the sustainable farming systems in Nordic Europe and elsewhere under future global change conditions results in the need for cultivars that enhance both yield stability as well as resilience.

The course will include 1-week of guest and teachers’ lectures as well as graduate students talks on adaptation and resilience traits and their genetics/genomics, and how to use them in plant breeding. The course will also bring the new selection methods such as genomic prediction and the use of genome-wide association for identifying genes related to both adaptation and resilience. The course will include in its syllabus –as per the lectures to be given – crossbreeding (including managing genotype-by-environment interactions), molecular breeding and other new plant breeding techniques (NPBTs) for crops and trees. The course will deal with the challenges of phenotyping large populations and management of large datasets. The course will give updates on exiting developments augmenting the domain and impact of plant breeding.


Pre-campus Assignments
The students are requested to bring a poster on their PhD project. The students will receive literature before the start in order to prepare their lectures.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understanding marker assisted selection and association genetics
  • Understanding the principles of genomic selection and prediction
  • Knowledge about the genome editing technologies


  • Be able to design a breeding program for a specific crop or tree species and target trait (adaptation or resilience)
  • Be able to identify required information in order to carry out a crop or tree breeding project to enhance adaptation and resilience


  • Be able to evaluate feasibility of crop or tree breeding for a given adaptation or resilience trait
  • Be able to suggest critical measures to reach the goal

Evaluation Elements
Students will earn their credits by presenting a poster of their project on day 1 and by preparing and giving a Student Lecture exploring relevant methods and principles taught on the course.

Pedagogical Approach
The course is based on lectures by teachers and students, and Q&A at plenum. It will include a visit to a Center of Excellence that engages in plant genetics, genomics and breeding research, which are relevant to the course.

Estimated Workload

  • 20 hours seminar by "teachers"
  • 40 hours lecture based on case study
  • 50 hours independent pre-course work (reading given literature and poster preparation)
  • 4 hours other poster presentation
  • 6 hours other visit to Umeå Plant Science Center
  • Total: 120 hours

    Prerequisite Knowledge
    The course is intended for PhD-students with basic knowledge of plant breeding and genetics, crop science and biotechnology. Students that have a breeding aspect in their PhD-project will get priority.

    Admission for NOVA courses is handled by the course organiser/ the NOVA member institution organising the course. Please see the links in the margin for more information.

    Apply here

    Practical Information
    NOVA does no longer support accommodation for any students attending NOVA PhD courses. Accommodation for all students and meals for non-NOVA students are handled / charged separately by the course organisation.

    More information on accommodation etc.

    Published 23. June 2016 - 14:17 - Updated 6. June 2017 - 10:52

    NOVA University Network


    Postal address:
    Ingrid Aksnes Hjetland
    NOVA Secretariat
    Norwegian University of Life Sciences
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