957325 Molecular plant breeding

Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Himmelbauer, Heinz , Stöger, Eva , Bürstmayr, Hermann
Offered in
Wintersemester 2023/24
Languages of instruction


The unprecedented development in the field of molecular biology of the last decade exerted a deep impact also on plant breeding. The purpose of these lectures is to follow up with this development.

We plan to cover the following topics:
* Basics of structural genomics and functional genomics
* Molecular markers/fingerprinting tools: examples of techniques and methods
* Genetic mapping
* Physical mapping
* Transgenic plants
* Genome editing
* Mutations and genetic analysis, e.g. TILLING
* Genome sequencing: modern tools and approaches
* Genetic mapping of qualitative and quantitative traits: QTL mapping, association mapping
* Use of markers in breeding: marker assisted selection (MAS) and Genomic Selection (GS)

Previous knowledge expected

This is an advanced course for master and/or PhD students.
Knowledge in classical and molecular genetics and cytogenetics is necessary for understanding this course.
Knowledge in plant breeding and/or animal breeding is needed to understand this course.

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

Participants in this course obtain knowledge about molecular genetic tools and methods, modern tools for genome analysis and particularly their implementation and application in plant improvement.

Students should be able to discuss and evaluate different molecular genetic toolboxes for plant breeding.

The half-life of knowledge in the field of genetics is extremely short. These lectures provide a present-day account of the genome and the gene, and their handling from the viewpoint of plant breeding. Two fundamental areas of plant breeding profit most from the latest developments of molecular genetics:

(1) Conventional selection. The research provides plant breeding with an ever increasing number of new molecular markers with ever increasing efficiency of application. Molecular markers from RFLPs to SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) and their use in estimating genetic variation, in relationship studies, in genome mapping, in marker aided selection, in QTL-analysis, and in map based cloning will be described, using examples partly from our own research.

(2) Creating new genetic variation. The first genetically modified plant, the "Flavr savr" tomato, was grown in the USA in 1994 on ca. 4000 ha. The genetic change was achieved by the so-called "antisense RNA technology", today a very popular technique in the human gene therapy. The growing area of transgenic plants world wide 2006 superseded 100 million ha. The area grown in the EU is estimated to be around 100.000 ha. Aim of the lecture is to refresh the basics of classical genetics, to introduce recent developments and make them comprehensible, and finally to discuss current arguments in favor and against gene technology to support forming a truly personal opinion.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.