Division of Plant Breeding Methodology

The Division (the Chair) of Plant Breeding Methodology is going through a phase of many changes, parallel to the groundbreaking new developments in genetics and breeding that we are experiencing and shaping.

Heiko Becker headed this group until 2018. Tim Beissinger then took over this position for five years, and Antje Schierholt headed this Division from February 2023 to April 2024. We are now preparing to - hopefully soon - facilitate the entry of a new head of research and teaching in Plant Breeding Methodology, here in Göttingen.

The products of plant breeding are cultivars that go into agriculture via planting material or seed. New cultivars are 'approved' if, among other things, they prove their so-called ‘value for cultivation and use’, i.e. if they are 'better' than the existing cultivars; better in the sense of better adapted to the needs of us humans, less susceptible to pathogens, pests, less sensitive to drought stress, heat, cold and so on. Better also in the sense of easier to harvest, with better crop quality and a smaller carbon footprint in the value chain.

Plant breeding is when you help crops with better genes (better information) to make more out of the same environment and still make enough out of difficult environments.

Findings and advances from many fields of research are applied in plant breeding, including evolution and domestication, taxonomy, genetics, genomics, biochemistry, physiology, botany, agronomy, plant nutrition, phytopathology, seed science, animal nutrition, human genetics, animal breeding, statistics, machine learning, agricultural science and even, for example, facts and findings from the legal sciences. Accordingly, the toolbox of plant breeding and breeding research encompasses a broad spectrum of biological, statistical and computer-aided approaches.

Our primary objective in Göttingen is to further develop and improve Plant Breeding Methodology. We enquire into the "how" of pre-breeding, of recurrent selection and of cultivar development. The research areas that are very closely related to Breeding Methodology are Population Genetics, Quantitative Genetics and Selection Theory. Current approaches are the sophisticated analysis of data from high-throughput genotyping and extensive phenotyping with the aim of making breeding more efficient. To this end, we develop specific sets of genotypes suitable for breeding research, which are evaluated for trait expression in field trials across multiple environments and under controlled (greenhouse) conditions. The main crops we are currently working on are maize, faba bean and quinoa.

We are one of the central divisions of the Department of Crop Sciences and of CiBreed (Center for Integrated Breeding Research), we collaborate with other research groups at this and at other universities, with further national and international research institutions and with the private sector. Because of our research and teaching, this Division is an authority for students exploring tomorrow's plant breeding today; we support them in their education, training and qualification as the future generation of plant breeders and breeding researchers in the public and private sectors.

The Division of Plant Breeding Methodology is currently headed by Wolfgang Link, serving as Interims Administration for the Division of Plant Breeding Methodology. For matters of day-to-day business, contact the Division Assistant Sekretariat Zuchtmethodik.

Working groups in the Division

  • Breeding Research in Faba Bean
    apl. Prof. Wolfgang Link, Pre-Breeding and Breeding Methodology in faba bean

  • Dr. Birgit Zumbach
    iPAB lecturer, supervisior for experimental theses, breeding research

  • Dr. Lisa Brünjes
    Breeding research on faba bean and further pulses

    • Plant Breeding Methodology. Head of the Division until April 2024
      Dr. Antje Schierholt

    • Plant Breeding Methodology (until Feb. 2023 this was the group of Timothy Beissinger as Head of Division)
      Plant Quantitative and Population Genetics. To better understand plants' evolution and to exploit such novel insight for current and future genetic improvement.

    • Genome Analysis and Application of Markers (PD Dr. Wolfgang Ecke; in retirement since end of 2022).
      Application of Molecular Markers for Genome Analysis (Synteny, LD) and genetic analysis of quantitative traits in rapeseed and faba bean.

    • Breeding Methodology in Maize and Rapeseed (Prof. Heiko Becker)
      In October 2018, Prof. Becker went into retirement.

      Synoptic Study 1
      Synoptic Study 2.JPG
      var der BLUPs