NPLK17003U New Plant Breeding Technologies and Selection Methods

Volume 2017/2018

In recent years new developments in plant breeding technologies (NPBT) and selection methods have emerged to provide new solutions for crop development to meet the 2050 challenges in food production under different climate conditions. These are being explored at different stages from research over pre-breeding to commercial crops. Concurrently with these developments, the legal framework governing ‘breeder’s rights’ versus international patents and IPR is also evolving in ways that will have profound impact on future breeding strategies.

The proposed course provides an intensive introduction to the most important new NPBT and their legal implications. The participating institutions will be able to offer the students a more comprehensive, research based course package than they would otherwise have been able to. The course will allow for students to learn from and interact with a wide range of regional experts from both science and industry with up to date knowledge an insights.     

There are eight new NPBT that have emerged in recent years that are of particular importance to current students pursuing a career in or related to plant breeding: 1) Oligonucleotide Directed Mutagenesis (ODM); 2) Zinc Finger Nuclease Technology (ZFN); 3) Cisgenesis; 4) Grafting; 5) Agro-infiltration; 6) RNA-dependent DNA methylation (RdDM); 7) Reverse Breeding and 8) Synthetic Genomics. In addition, advanced statistical methods have been developed that allow taking entire genomics information into consideration in breeding by application of association genetics (GWAS) and genomics selection (GS).

During the course, the legal framework for science and industry concerning the application of NPBT will be presented along with theoretical and practical examples of the exploitation of the different techniques.

Learning Outcome

The course is concerned with plant breeding of field crop plants (eg. grain, grass, tuber), forestry trees, specialty plants with reference to temperate climate growth conditions. The aim is to bridge plant molecular biology and practical plant breeding.

The course will cover:

  • The principles and application of the eight new breeding technologies
  • Association genetics (GWAS) and genomic selection (GS)
  • Breeding strategies in different crops
  • Breeders right, IPR and GMO regulation


After completing the course, the participants should be able to:


Understand the principles of new plant breeding technologies (NPBT)

Understand the principles of Association genetics (GWAS) and genomic selection (GS)

Identify required information in order to carry out a breeding project

Describe breeding strategies in different crops

Understand the basic legal framework concerning breeder’s right, IPR and GMO regulation



Evaluate feasibility of breeding for a given trait

Suggest critical measures to reach the goal



Be able to identify required information in order to carry out a mutational breeding project

Be able to evaluate feasibility of breeding for a given trait

Be able to explain the different IPR and GMO regulations relevant to crop improvement

During the distance learning phase at home (see course outline below), participants will have access to mandatory and recommended literature for course preparation.

The information regarding the litterature will be on Absalon

This course targets students in agricultural or plant sciences, or related subjects. A sound basic understanding of general genetics (including quantitative and population genetics) and plant breeding is a pre-requisite for this course.
On-site course programme (24-29 June 2018)
The intensive course will consist of three parts: a distance learning part, an on-site part, and a case study of breeding a crop plant that forms the basis of a final written report.
A mix of lectures, case studies, Journal Club sessions, including student presentations, and an excursion to a plant breeding company will provide an excellent learning experience. A case study on a breeding program relevant for conventional and organic agriculture in the Nordic/Baltic region will be taught.
In the distance learning part, students are required to study and to prepare a short presentation on an original scientific paper provided 4-6 weeks before the on-site part of the course commences. Student presentations will be delivered during the daily Journal Club sessions (see detailed programme below). The Journal Club concept will support the learning of the topics taught in lectures by allowing students to actively debate current topics within the field. The individual Journal Club presentations and discussions will also be used to assess each student’s achievements and performance during the distance learning part of the course and provide inputs for the subsequent lectures.
During the on-site part of the course, lectures, discussions and practical exercises will be used to introduce and evaluate the understanding of theoretical concepts and practical assessment methods. The excursion to a plant breeding company will give students an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and practical expertise.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Excursions
  • 8
  • Guidance
  • 20
  • Laboratory
  • 20
  • Lectures
  • 20
  • Preparation
  • 42
  • Project work
  • 27,5
  • Total
  • 137,5
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 4-5 pages
At the end of the on-site part each student will receive a case-study forming the basis for a written assignment. When completing the assignment, students are expected to demonstrate that they are capable of using the learned skills in breeding technologies to solve a specific breeding target. Individual written reports are to be handed in by mid July 2018.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner.

For the re-exam a new assignment is given, and a report is to be handed in one week after.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome