PhD in Plant Breeding & Genetics

Those who wish to study, teach, or hold high-level research positions in horticultural fields might be candidates for Ph.D. programs in plant breeding and genetics.

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To conduct scholarly research and teaching in the areas of plant improvements, genomics, plant breeding, and horticulture, you might consider pursuing a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) in Plant Breeding and Genetics. Here, you can learn more about what is required in the course of earning this degree, in addition to common requirements for program admission.

Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics Program Description

Candidates for a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics are expected to exhibit broad knowledge of the field, as well as produce independent, publishable research. Common requirements to pursue this degree include a range of coursework, qualifying or oral exams, and the preparation and defense of a dissertation. Some universities may require participation in teaching activities as well. Some classes that may be encountered by Ph.D. students include:

Plant Genetics

This type of course is likely to provide information on the structure and function of plant genomes. Students might be introduced to modes of reproduction, genome structure, and epigenetics. The goal may be to gain a thorough grounding in the methodologies used in plant genetics in order to carry out independent research.

Genetically Engineered Crops

A course in genetically engineered crops may provide an introduction to what these crops are and how they differ from other crops. Specific topics might include insect and disease resistance, improvement in nutritional value, and environmental remediation. Students may consider the risk and benefits of GMO crops.

Plant Disease Resistance

An important consideration in the breeding of plants and crops is resistance to disease. This kind of course may introduce techniques for evaluating plant resistance, including information on host signaling. Students might consider why disease resistance can fail, as well.

Nutritional Quality Improvement of Food Crops

Some individuals may be interested in the field of plant breeding and genetics in order to explore and remedy issues of malnutrition. This type of course might explore issues of biofortification of crops in order to improve their nutritional quality. Students might review micronutrients, prebiotics, proteins, and lipids involved in the nutritional quality of plants.

Computational Genetics and Genomics

A course in computational genetics and genomics may be essential as students conduct independent research. The sort of course may cover sequence alignment, Markov models, and ancestry inference. Computer programming may be required.

Plant Breeding Practicum

A practicum could provide supervised, practical experience in utilizing the breeding techniques that have been studied. Students might be exposed to techniques of cross-breeding, planting, and selecting plant specimens. Overall program development and implementation may be an area of interest as well.

Admission Requirements for Ph.D. Programs in Plant Breeding and Genetics

Applications for these Ph.D. programs can be competitive. Prospective students should hold a bachelor's degree with significant coursework in biology, chemistry, and mathematics. Candidates should expect to provide transcripts, GRE scores, references, and a statement of purpose. Research experience is usually expected. Applicants may be advised to directly contact a professor with whom they would be interested in working.

A Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics can provide outstanding preparation for research and teaching careers. Typically, students will need to complete courses, exams, and a dissertation to earn this degree.

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