SIPS Plant Breeding & Genetics Section

Plant breeding is a critical tool in the fight for food security and responsible environmental stewardship in the 21st century. For more than one hundred years, Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University has been widely recognized for developing novel breeding methodologies and discovering economically important genes and varieties.

Ranked the top plant breeding department in the nation, our scientists and students conduct translational research that bridges the gap between fundamental research and its implementation in applied breeding programs. Learn more about the history of our section and the vision of our school.

Diversity of crops

Vegetables

Vegetable breeders in the the Plant Breeding & Genetics section breed new and commercially appealing vegetables, research the genetics of important traits and develop new lines appropriate for regional growing conditions.

More information: 

Diversity of crops

Fruit

Whether apples, grapes or berries, our researchers use the latest tools in genetics and selection to develop nutritious, appealing fruit varieties, adapted to local growing conditions and meeting the needs of the fresh and processing markets.

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Diversity of crops

Grains

Our researchers use advanced genetics tools for complex trait analysis and development of new varieties of small grains and maize with enhanced nutritional content and other traits of interest for product developers.

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Diversity of crops

Hemp & forage

Industrial hemp, forage crops, and plants used for biofuels represent important areas of research. They are the basis of emerging industries and in the case of forages, support New York state's dairy production.

Diversity of crops

Ornamentals

Ornamental plant breeding introduces disease resistance, enhances winter hardiness and addresses consumer demand for new and interesting products. Much of Cornell's ornamental breeding is conducted at the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Riverhead New York.

More information:

man in hat examines potatoes in the field
woman displaying apple varieties
man standing in a field of grain observed by a women wearing a red hat
two men working together at a lab bench
single pink flower blossom

Cross-cutting themes & tools

two drones in a corn field

Plant Breeding & Genetics faculty are developing and using the latest tools in digital agriculture for rapid and precise analysis of plant traits.

Woman giving a lecture

Our faculty are leaders in international agriculture, addressing problems in global food security through advanced breeding of rice, cassava and other staple crops.

people standing in a grain field

Whether developing new barley varieties, identifying lines of hemp, or breeding vegetables for regional conditions and markets, our faculty play an important role in supporting New York economic development.

Graduate and undergraduate training

Plant Breeding & Genetics offers degrees and training opportunities at all stages of the educational pipeline

group of researchers in a lab setting

Graduate field of plant breeding

Students interested in obtaining an MS or PhD degree in the graduate field of plant breeding can select among two concentrations.

  • Plant breeding

  • Plant genetics

Undergraduate — plant sciences major

Undergraduates majoring in the plant sciences can choose to concentrate in plant breeding and genetics, preparing them for careers in plant improvement and policy whether in private industry or public government/university sectors.

Undergraduate — plant breeding minor

Cornell is one of few places in the United States where students can receive in-depth training in plant breeding. Undergraduate students in diverse majors can add a minor in plant breeding, and gain in depth knowledge of this discipline.

Undergraduate research — Plant Genome Internship

The National Science Foundation-sponsored Plant Genome Internship introduces high school and undergraduate students to state-of-the-art techniques in plant biology and trains students in scientific ethics, laboratory safety, and data presentation.

Undergraduate research — other

The Office of Undergraduate Research provides information about exploring the wealth of research opportunities at Cornell.

The Honors Program in Biological Sciences is designed to offer advanced training in laboratory and field research through the performance of an original research project under the direct guidance of a member of the Cornell faculty.

Master of Professional Studies

Our MPS programs are one-year, course-based degrees, ideal for individuals interested in in-depth study of the issues and advancements in plant and soil sciences. Choose from specializations in Controlled Environment Agriculture, viticulture, public garden leadership, hemp science, plant protection, geospatial applications and more.

News from the SIPS Plant Breeding & Genetics Section

Learn more about recent developments in our research, outreach, and education

2021 Gene Stewardship Award Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

News

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada team earns BGRI research award
The rust-resistant wheat cultivar development team at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) earned the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI) 2021 Gene Stewardship Award for their long-standing innovations and strategies to combat wheat rust in...
  • Department of Global Development
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics Section
A man collects data in a research field.

News

A Cornell-led national network of scientists and farmers is developing new varieties of cover crops that are better adapted to local regions and stressors – changes that could carry a bevy of long-term and sustainable benefits for organic growers.
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics Section
  • Agriculture
Scientists look at plants.

News

A new multi-institution, transdisciplinary center will develop systems for two-way communication with plants, allowing scientists to remotely sense a plant’s biology and its immediate ecosystem, in hopes of one day using the information to improve plant growth.
  • Cornell Institute for Digital Agriculture
  • Plant Biology Section
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics Section
Three people at an award reception on a stage

News

NextGen Cassava project director Chiedozie Egesi was announced as the 2021 Achiever in Agriculture Award for his work creating a platform to deliver resilient food systems in Nigeria.
  • Department of Global Development
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics Section
Colorful graphic with representations of wheat

News

This year the BGRI will host a virtual conference October 6-8 with the theme “Global Resilience: Science, Pandemics, and the Future of Wheat.” The 2021 BGRI Virtual Technical Workshop will explore how nearly two decades of monitoring and responding to wheat rust epidemics can provide lessons for other global disease outbreaks such as COVID-19. Keynote speakers will draw attention to how we can apply the lessons learned from wheat research and epidemic response to other pandemic diseases facing today’s world.
  • Department of Global Development
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics Section