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The Section of Plant Breeding and Genetics is globally recognized for developing innovative approaches to crop improvement. Section faculty conduct “translational research” that bridges the gap between fundamental research and its implementation in applied breeding programs, leading to superior crop varieties. Cornell Plant Breeding is widely known for its local, national, and international impact in delivering products and knowledge that are directly responsive to growers’ needs at all scales.

Plant Breeding Programs

greenhouse plants

Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (AFRI)

Plant Breeding and Genetics faculty have been awarded a USDA-AFRI grant for a project entitled, “Enhancing Education and Research for Plant Disease Resistance.” The project aims to train future plant breeders to utilize genomic tools, navigate vast data sets using bioinformatics, and synthesize research from both vegetable and grain breeding perspectives.

Ear of corn

Crop Variety Trials

As the only land grant university in New York, Cornell has several departments, including Plant Breeding and Genetics, that offer agricultural services and information on crop variety testing to farmers, seed producers and distributors, and gardeners throughout the state.

field presentation

Forage Project

The Forage Breeding Project focuses primarily on breeding and genetic research of alfalfa to improve yield, quality, and persistence. Additional priorities include evaluating perennial grasses and legumes as feedstocks for biofuel production.

Corn seeds

New York Seed Improvement Project (NYSIP)

The New York Seed Improvement Project has two main goals. The first is to develop large quantities of foundation seed stocks from breeder seed, which is typically only produced in small quantities for testing. Second, the program is responsible for certifying seed that meets high standards for genetic purity and quality.

Measuring rice plants

Rice Diversity Project

The Rice Diversity Project is a collaborative effort to explore the genetic basis of variation in rice and its wild ancestors. The project evaluates genotypes and phenotypes in a diverse set of rice accessions and uses association mapping to link genotype and phenotype.

durum wheat stalks

Small Grains

The Cornell Small Grains Project has a history of more than ninety years of developing innovative approaches to crop improvement. This research program utilizes appropriate technologies encompassing molecular genetics, physiology, pathology, and breeding to develop strategies that contribute to the development of superior crop varieties.

vegetable display

Vegetable Breeding Institute (VBI)

The Vegetable Breeding Institute includes faculty at Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison who are conducting basic and applied vegetable breeding research, as well as domestic and international members in the vegetable seed industry who actively support their research.

Associated Programs and Resources

durable wheat rust

The Section of Plant Breeding and Genetics collaborates with a number of other exciting research and extension projects. From agricultural biotechnology to genomics and diversity to issues surrounding genetically engineered crops, department faculty play fundamental roles in cutting edge programs around the world. Learn more