PLANT SC 7305WT - Plant Breeding

Waite Campus - Semester 1 - 2023

Genetic manipulation in plants has underpinned improvements in productivity and has enhanced sustainability of farming systems worldwide. As well, plant genetic diversity is fundamental to understand adaptation in natural systems. This course introduces the fundamental concepts of plant breeding and plant adaptation that are applicable to agricultural and natural systems. The topics covered include: genetic diversity in relation to adaptation, productivity, pest and disease resistance and end-use quality; strategies for setting breeding objectives and maximising selection and improvement of key traits; breeding methodologies for self or cross pollinated plants.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PLANT SC 7305WT
    Course Plant Breeding
    Coordinating Unit School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s Waite Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 6 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assumed Knowledge ANIML SC 2501WT & PLANT SC 2510WT or equivalent
    Assessment Terminology test, student blogs, oral presentation, major written report, final exam
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Jason Able

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Describe sources and types of genetic variation and explain their importance for plant improvement, using oral or written communication skills.
    2 Describe the progression of stages within a modern breeding program from the setting of breeding objectives, through to the development and implementation of breeding strategies to the commercialisation of plant varieties and the protection of intellectual property.
    3 Judge which plant breeding methods are appropriate for specific objectives and situations with limited guidance. In doing so, formulate a comprehensive breeding plan to achieve a specific objective and evaluate the outcomes of that plan.
    4 Locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information relevant to plant breeding.
    5 Observe and/or carry out specific plant breeding activities, such as selection of parental germplasm, observation and recording of phenotypic variation and selection among progeny.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.


    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.


    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.

    4, 6, 7

    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Students will be required to use MyUni
    Recommended Resources
    While not deemed essential, a list of recommended resources

    Writing guide: The following booklet provides a useful guide
    on written communication in science:

    Cargill, M. & Bellotti, M. 2004, Written Communication
    in the Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, The University of Adelaide,

    Recommended textbook:

    Acquaah, G. 2007, Principles of Plant Genetics and Breeding,
    Blackwell Publishing, Malden.

    A dictionary of terms:

    Schlegel, R.H.J. 2003, Encyclopedic Dictionary of Plant
    Breeding and Related Subjects, Haworth Press, New York.

    Other books: These books are also available in the Waite Library:

    Halloran, G.M., Knight, R., McWhirter, K.S. & Sparrow,
    D.H.B. 1979, A Course Manual in Plant Breeding. Australian Vice-Chancellors’

    Sleper, D.A. & Poehlman, J.M. 2006, Breeding Field
    Crops, Blackwell, Iowa.

    Chrispeels, M.J. & Sadava, D.E. 2003, ‘Plants, genes and
    crop biotechnology’. Jones and Bartlett, Boston.

    For some of the practicals (field trips), University cars
    will be used to transport the students to and from the activity
    Online Learning
    MyUni: Teaching materials and course documentation will be posted on the MyUni website
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will be delivered by the following means:

    Lectures: 2 hours per week
    Practicals: 4 hours per week

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A student enrolled in a 3 unit course, such as this, should expect to spend, on average 12 hours per week on the studies required. This includes both the formal contact time required to the course (e.g., lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g., reading and revision).
    Learning Activities Summary
    The lecture and theoretical content on-line will cover the following aspects:
    • Introduction to plant breeding;
    • Genetic diversity and genetic resources;
    • Crossing within and between plant species;
    • Quantitative and qualitative variation in plants;
    • Novel variation for plant breeding;
    • Genomic selection in plant breeding;
    • Breeding methods for self-pollinating, clonally propagated, and cross-pollinating species;
    • Breeding hybrid crops;
    • Breeding for resistance against diseases and pests;
    • Performance evaluation;
    • Variety release and commercialisation.

    Practicals, when held, will introduce students to a range of plant breeding activities, including but not limited to: crossing and selection decisions in several crop species; designing and setting up field trials; information management in plant breeding; learning about and demonstration of various breeding programs at the Waite (including but not limited to durum breeding, faba bean breeding, almond breeding); learning about and demonstration of the private plant breeding company’s operations in canola, lupins, barley and wheat (AGT located at Roseworthy); and disease screening.

    Details of each learning activity will be provided prior to class on MyUni.
    Specific Course Requirements
    Attendance at practical classes and field trips (where held) is expected unless you have a medical certificate. It is also expected that all lectures will be attended and that students will read and comment on the short reports (BLOGS) that other students post.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    Assessment task

    Type of Assessment


    Percentage of total assessment for grading purposes

    Hurdle Yes or No

    Course learning outcomes being assessed / achieved

    (Should be no more than 3)

    Approximate timing of assessment

    (week of teaching period)

    Terminology test






    Student blogs




    1, 2, 4


    Oral presentation




    2, 3, 4


    Major written report




    2, 3, 4


    Final exam




    2, 3, 5

    Exam period

    Assessment Related Requirements

    Assessment Item with Hurdle or compulsory component

    % needed to meet hurdle or requirement to meet compulsory component

    Is additional assessment available if student does not meet hurdle requirement or compulsory component, if no please explain

    If additional assessment is available, explain what type




    R/AA exam in scheduled R/AA period

    Assessment Detail
    Terminology test (4%)
    At the beginning of the course, students will be provided with a list of terms and their definitions. The test (conducted early in the semester, around week 3) will assess understanding of the meaning of these terms. Feedback from the test is made available to the students one week after the test.

    Student blogs (6%)
    Over the course of the semester, students will contribute to a blog on MyUni by reporting in an accurate and interesting way about highlights from practicals/field trips in the course and/or other topics related to plant breeding. Each student will contribute three unique entries (no more than 300 words each) spread across the semester (approximately weeks 5, 8 and 11). Students are also expected to read each others’ posts and to post constructive comments. By the end of the semester, the blog should provide an informative and interesting record of highlights from this course.

    Oral presentation (15 mins) on an example in plant breeding (10%)
    Information and materials (including images) about a series of examples in plant breeding are provided as background information. At the beginning of the course, each example is assigned to one student or a pair of students (depending on class numbers). Each student or a pair of students is then required to prepare and give an oral presentation in week 6 or 7 that: Presents and explains the example to the class, relating it to one or more important concepts in plant breeding; Provides relevant information and critical analysis beyond that included in the materials that were provided with the example.

    Major written report (40%)
    Each student is to write a comprehensive report outlining a plan for addressing a specific breeding objective(s) for a specific crop. This assessment item is due towards the end of semester (approximately week 12). The report (4000-5000 words) will include the following sections: Background on the plant species; Background on the breeding objective(s); A detailed breeding plan outlining how the objective can be addressed; Discussion, which will include what factors (economic considerations to be taken into account) a breeder would need to consider in deciding whether and how to address this breeding objective(s); Conclusion; References cited. Students will receive written feedback on this report within two weeks.

    Final exam (40%)
    A final exam will be given at the end of the semester to ensure summative knowledge of course material. Students must achieve at least 40% in the final exam to pass the course.
    If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply.
    A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that the assignment is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days late or more without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the marks available for that assignment.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.