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Plant Breeding for Sustainable Plant Health Management

  • Photo: 
    Håkon Sparre

NOVA PhD course of 5 ECTS, organised by Researcher Morten Lillemo, Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
Course dates and location: 27 Jan. - 1 Feb. 2019, in Dombås, Norway.

Course Description
The course will provide PhD students with theoretical background and practical examples of using host plant resistance breeding as a key element to achieve sustainable disease management in agro-ecosystems. Resistance breeding is often advocated as the most cost-effective and sustainable way of crop protection, but can also lead to great failures if the sought resistance itself is unsustainable. The concepts of durable resistance will therefore be discussed, and focus will be on how host resistance of cultivars can enhance other control measures like chemical plant protection and agronomic practices (crop rotation, stubble management, soil tillage). The overall goal is to support the development of sustainable food production systems in the Nordic countries.

The course will include a mix of lectures given by teachers as well as graduate students talks on resistance breeding with focus on adapting crops to sustainable Nordic production systems. Both crossbreeding methods and omics aspects of plant-pathogen relationships will be covered as well as utilization of modern breeding methods like high throughput phenotyping (phenomics), genomics (QTL mapping, GWAS, genomic selection) and genome editing to enhance host plant resistance.

Programme Outline

  • Sunday afternoon: arrival and accommodation. Pre-dinner guest lecture.
  • Monday: Introduction to host plant resistance breeding and the concepts of sustainable production systems. Students Poster presentations.
  • Tuesday: Biology of plant-pathogen interactions using classical and modern molecular biology and omics tools. Biotrophic and necrotrophic diseases.
  • Wednesday: Genetics of host plant resistance. Race/biotype specific and non-specific resistance
  • Thursday: Application of genomics tools in resistance breeding. Principles of genomic prediction of breeding values for selection.
  • Friday: Breeding for sustainable plant health management. Practical examples from plant breeding. Course evaluation and farewell.

Pre-/Post-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 a Student Lecture. There will be no post-campus assignments.

Learning Outcomes

  • Knowledge
    • Understanding the basic concepts of race specific and race non-specific resistance
    • Understanding how plant resistance can contribute to sustainable disease management
    • Knowledge about QTL mapping, GWAS and genomic prediction of breeding values for selection as tools in host plant resistance breeding
  • Skills
    • Be able to design a plant breeding program for a specific crop and target trait (host plant resistance to pathogens and pests)
    • Be able to identify required information in order to carry out a plant breeding project to support sustainable plant health management
  • Competence
    • Be able to evaluate feasibility of plant breeding for a given host plant resistance 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 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, case studies, working groups and plenum discussions. The course will foster creative thinking, discussions and exchange of ideas among PhD students, teachers and plant breeders.

Estimated Workload

  • 20 hours teacher lectures
  • 40 hours student lectures, poster presentations and case studies
  • 90 hours independent work (reading given literature, preparing lecture on given topic, preparing poster presentation)

Prerequisite Knowledge
The course is intended for PhD students with basic knowledge of plant breeding and genetics, plant pathology, crop science and biotechnology. Students with plant breeding related research 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


Course fee for non-NOVA/BOVA students: NOK2,000.
Accommodation in shared double room: ca. NOK5,000 (including meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Published 31. July 2018 - 12:24 - Updated 8. November 2018 - 12:32