International Conference on „Selection Theory and Breeding Methodology“ TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, Freising, Germany March 23-24, 2017

The international conference on “Selection Theory and Breeding Methodology” took place from Thursday, March 23 to Friday, March 24, 2017 at the campus of the TUM School of Life Sciences in Freising-Weihenstephan and hosted nearly 150 participants from 16 nations. The program of the event can be found here.

Selection theory has provided the scientific basis for optimizing breeding programs and there is an urgent need to develop new theory and methods to make best use of the available new technologies. With breeding methodology becoming more complex through the use of high-density genotyping and sequencing, developments in precision phenotyping as well as insights from genome discovery, profound knowledge of the mechanisms underlying genetic progress has become more important than ever. The genomics era has already generated a wide variety of research questions in the field of selection theory. Implementation of genome-based prediction in existing breeding programs cannot be solved in a generic way but requires attention to the specifics of breeding schemes and populations. The aim of the conference was to foster intellectual cross-fertilisation between disciplines and intensify discussions on common grounds and fundamental differences between breeding programs.

The conference brought together 17 high-profile international experts from research disciplines devoted to the genetic improvement of crop and livestock species. The conference program was highly attractive for participants from academia and industry to learn about the latest developments in the field and exchange their knowledge and experience on plant and animal breeding methodology.

The following topics have been addressed:

  1. Optimal structures of breeding programs and allocation of resources
  2. Challenges arising from genotype x environment interaction
  3. Strategies to broaden and maintain genetic diversity
  4. Advances in hybrid breeding and management of heterotic groups

A number of speakers presented new theory and methodology for advancing selection in general and genome based prediction in particular. Others reported results from experimental data and simulations. All talks converged on optimum strategies to maximize selection gain. The speakers from private industry were very open and disclosed many of their internal results on implementation of genomics in breeding. During the entire conference discussions were very lively and intense. Thoughts on urgent research topics were shared between the participants such as integration of heterogeneous big data, novel statistical methods, and advanced simulation software. Opinions on where the field should go were openly shared.

All participants agreed that a conference on selection theory was long overdue, and that the chosen format was appropriate for the topic and the structure of the scientific community. PhD students and postdocs had a chance to talk to the leaders in the field on a very informal and casual basis.

Chris-Carolin Schön, Freising