Kies op maat

Inloggen Menu

Plant breeding - 30 ECTS

Our climate is changing, the world’s population is growing rapidly, yet the amount of arable land decreases through erosion and depletion of resources. Plant breeding plays a central role in maintaining food security worldwide, by developing new crop cultivars with higher yield, resistance to pests and tolerance to salt, flooding and drought. Would you like to contribute to future food security? Would you like to develop new crop cultivars, and learn how to direct their evolution? Then stop searching. This minor “Plant Breeding” is tailor-made for your interests.

This minor Plant Breeding (30 ECTS) is set up for those who are interested in starting a career as an assistant breeder or a research assistant at a seed company or in seed production. You will work with real seed companies, analyse their breeding programs, and present advisory reports in final presentations. You will study genetic variation and breeding methods, seed production, resistance breeding, and experimental design. You will also follow courses on advanced plant breeding methods, such as transgenesis, mutagenesis, marker-assisted selection and in-vitro propagation. Several day excursions and an international excursion will introduce you to the fields and facilities of top-notch seed companies. All courses are taught in English.

After successfully completing this minor, you will be able to design, organize and implement a breeding program under supervision of a main breeder. You will also be able to understand and discuss a variety of advanced plant breeding techniques, and choose appropriate methods for a given set of breeding aims.

This minor consists of two parts, which are organized parallel to each other.

  1. Plant Breeding and Seed Production (15 ECTS)
  2. Advanced Methods in Plant Breeding (15 ECTS)

This minor is embedded in a full year program on Plant Breeding (60 ECTS) and is open to both Dutch and international students. For specific information about the full-year program on Plant Breeding, please contact the coordinator Bram Knegt at


This minor prepares you for the professional tasks of an assistant breeder of a research assistant. After completing this minor you will be able to:

  • choose the most appropriate breeding method for different crops and their traits
  • assess selection trials and select plants based on the genetic background of the traits
  • explain the reproduction cycle and the process of seed production in plant breeding
  • apply the biology and genetic basis of pests and disease resistance in resistance breeding approaches
  • design field trails for a breeding program and analyse data using MS Excel and other statistical programs
  • discuss the most important molecular tools to enhance the breeding process
  • apply basic molecular techniques in plant breeding

This minor has two assignments:

  1. As an assistant breeder of smaller crops, your task is to develop a breeding program with colleague students. The program contains breeding aims on crop production and market analysis, germ plasm choices and a detailed plan for planting/sowing, crossing and selection for next generations.
  1. A seed company wants to breed new cultivars for a given crop. The main breeder of the company asks you to explore the possibilities to speed up the breeding program with the use of molecular markers, genetic modification, or any other advanced breeding technique. You will individually write an advisory report, and present your advice to the main breeder.


You can participate in this minor if you have:

  • Successfully completed two to three years of a related bachelor program, such as Applied Biology, Horticulture and Arable Farming or an additional degree in a related course. Subjects of your previous education should include: plant taxonomy, plant growth and reproduction, plant physiology, Mendelian genetics, biology of pests and diseases, cell biology, basis statistics.

  • in case the candidate can prove that he/she has a knowledge of these topics gained through working experience he/she may be exempted from fulfilling one of the previous criteria

  • English level of IELTS 6.0 or equivalent for EU students; a test can be taken at an intake session of the course, without extra costs. Overseas students need to provide an authenticated proof in advance.


There are several components in this minor, each with a specific evaluation procedure. Theory classes will be completed with a written exam; practicals and fieldwork will be evaluated by attendance and a proof of proficiency; the assessment will be evaluated on the quality of reports and oral presentation.

Part 1 Plant Breeding and Seed Production

  • Assessment: breeding program + oral defense (4 ECTS), September – January
  • Genetic variation and breeding methods (4 ECTS), exam in January
  • Biology of seed production (3 ECTS), exam in November
  • Breeding for resistance (2 ECTS), exam in January
  • Experimental design and field trails (2 ECTS), computer exam in November

Part 2 Advanced Methods in Plant Breeding

  • Assessment: advisory report + presentation, excursions (6 ECTS), September - January
  • Molecular Breeding 1 (theory class) (2 ECTS), exam in November
  • Molecular Breeding 2 (theory class) (2 ECTS), exam in January
  • Data Analysis (computer practical) (2 ECTS), November – January
  • Clonal Propagation (lab practical) (3 ECTS), September - January


Practical guides and additional documents will be provided through the online learning environment (Canvas).

Recommended: Acquaah, G. (2012) Principles of Plant genetics and breeding. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-0-470-66476-6


The courses of this minor will be taught on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday weekly. This course includes a mandatory international excursion (approximately 60 Euros).