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Pat Byrne

Colorado State University offers a one-credit online course in Plant Breeding for Drought Tolerance. Course instructor is Dr. Patrick Byrne, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. The next offering has not yet been scheduled.


This distance course is targeted to graduate students in the plant sciences, as well as to professionals in the public and private sectors who want to increase their knowledge in this area. It will provide one transferable graduate-level credit.

CONTENTLeaf rolling

The course will focus on plant breeding strategies and practices directed toward improving plant performance under limited soil moisture. Concepts for this intensive, one-credit graduate level course include:
• Analyzing the target environment
• Understanding plant response to drought stress and plant adaptation strategies
• Using wild species and landraces as sources of drought tolerance
• Determining which phenotypic traits to use in selection practices
• Detecting marker-trait associations for relevant traits via QTL analysis and association mapping
• Understanding transgenic approaches to drought tolerance
• Learning from successful examples of improving drought tolerance in a variety of crops


Stress NurseriesThe 15-week curriculum is divided into 15 lessons. Each lesson's content will be delivered via a voice-over PowerPoint presentation, a video, a reading assignment, or combinations of these media. Some lessons will require student participation in an online discussion, completion of an online quiz, or submission of a homework assignment. The compiled homework assignments will comprise a portfolio of documents describing an analysis and breeding strategy for a specific crop and environment. There will be a comprehensive final exam administered during the week of December 11.Aegilops tauschii photo


Participants should have a basic understanding of genetics, plant breeding, and plant physiology. Prior to the beginning of the course, students will review online material on these topics to provide a common background in breeding and physiology concepts.


The cost of student tuition will be about $640 plus a $20 technology fee. Word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software (e.g., Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) is required, as is Adobe Reader. Students are required to have access to a computer and Internet access that meet the general CSU recommendations.


For questions or registration information, please contact the Program Assistant, Kierra Jewell, at

Online courseSelected comments from previous students in this course:

"I have never done a distance course but I liked how easy and self-explanatory it was to access lectures and material."

"The voice over powerpoints were very clear, easy to use and understand."

"There was so much information that we could get access to (papers, lectures, etc) and even if I didn't have time to read all of it right away, I can go back to it later."

"I felt the portfolio aspect and the fact that we worked on it week by week was very beneficial and much easier to relay the understanding of the material."

"I enjoyed the discussion board as it motivated me to more critically think about the papers while reading them."