IPBO organized the course “Modern breeding techniques of maize”

from August 21 – September 8 2017

From August 21 till September 8, 2017, IPBO, the outreach cell of VIB organized a 19-day course, in collaboration with the VIB Center for Plant Systems Biology and UGent in Ghent, Belgium. This course was funded with support of VLIR-UOS, Ghent University, the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (VIB) and the Marc and Nora van Montagu Fund.

Maize is the most produced cereal worldwide. In Africa alone, more than 300 million people depend on maize as their main food crop, but is also very important as feed for their farm animals. Approximately 1 billion tons of maize are grown in more than 170 countries on about 180 million hectares of land. Maize production in Africa is in general however very low because the production stagnates at around 2 tons/hectare/year.


This course “Modern breeding techniques of maize” focused on (1) the latest scientific developments and tools to accelerate maize breeding (both conventional breeding and biotechnological techniques), (2) the latest essential insights in the regulatory framework and environmental risk assessment principles in Africa and Europe and (3) methods to collect reliable data that allow a thorough environmental risk assessment of new maize varieties.


The program started with fundamental background sessions on maize breeding, the use of molecular markers in plant breeding, plant biotechnology, genetic transformation and new breeding techniques for maize. Experts from Europe and Africa gave an overview of all biotic and abiotic stresses affecting the growth of maize and possible solutions to overcome these threaths. In these sessions, special emphasis was given on the effects of fungal contamination, drought and soil fertility on the growth and yield of maize. The program also includes practical exercises about maize phenotyping and bio-informatics and visits to confined field trials.


The course continues with both theory and exercices for the understanding of the basic principles and methodologies of crop safety and risk assessment.


During the last week of this course, all participants were registered at the 8th international meeting of the IOBC/WPRS working group “GMOs in integrated pest management” and could present their work by an oral or poster presentation.