Cambridge, United Kingdom
November 4, 2008
National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) is to
repeat its two-week intensive training course in ‘Quantitative
Genetics in Plant Breeding’, after the first session held
earlier this year was heavily over-subscribed.
Targeted at both existing and prospective plant breeders, the
post-graduate level course aims to update practitioners on the
role and application of statistical and quantitative genetics in
practical plant breeding programmes.
Course tutor Dr Ian Mackay believes these skills are too often
overlooked by universities and research institutes with the
expansion of molecular genetics and genomics. Yet the genetic
knowledge gained through these newer disciplines can be
integrated into improved crop varieties most effectively through
the application of quantitative genetics.
“The loss of training for plant breeders is particularly
apparent in the field of statistics and quantitative genetics –
never popular subjects among biologists,” said Dr Mackay.
“Yet at the heart of all breeding remains the need to design and
analyse trials to rank varieties in order of merit, while
developments in computing power and advanced software have
opened up more sophisticated methods of analysis to improve the
chances of breeding a successful variety.
“The future trend in plant breeding will be to combine the
recent explosion in our understanding of plant genetics with
increased use of the latest mathematical, quantitative and
statistical methods. By focusing on the practical application of
these methods in plant breeding programmes, the popularity of
this course shows you can’t have one without the other,” he
This NIAB course is the only intensive training programme of its
kind to provide the statistical and genetic background to such a
wide spectrum of quantitative methods, traditional and new,
which are relevant to plant breeding - from practical trial
design and analysis through to the role of modern computer
software in marker-assisted selection and association genetics.
Limited to 20 participants, the two-week course will take place
at NIAB, Cambridge, from 16 to 27 March 2009. Further details
available from Chris Dixon on +44 (0)1223 42269 or e-mail
The National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) is a
pioneering plant science organisation based at the heart of the
Cambridge science, technology and university communities and a
thriving UK agricultural industry. It has an internationally
recognised reputation for independence, innovation and
Founded in 1919, NIAB has over 80 years experience in the
agricultural and food sectors. The Institute employs 161 staff
with the main headquarters in Cambridge and regional offices at
Headley Hall in North Yorkshire, Harper Adams in Shropshire,
Seale Hayne in Devon, HRI Kirton in Lincolnshire, Gwent in
Monmouthshire, Itchen Stoke in Hampshire and Wye in Kent.