The Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology (PBGB) Interdepartmental Graduate Program

The Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology (PBGB) Interdepartmental Graduate Program is an interdepartmental program.  Graduate students carry out their educational curriculum, teaching assistance and research experiences with faculty and fellow students in Crop and Soil Sciences, Forestry, Horticulture, Plant Biology and Plant Pathology.  Since 1981, more than 100 M.S. and Ph.D. degrees have been conferred to graduating students. Students who have earned graduate degrees in the PBGB Program at Michigan State University have careers at universities, in private industry and with governmental agencies both in the United States and overseas.

The PBGB Program has made significant contributions to U.S. agriculture. Many cultivars, and inbred lines of agronomic, horticultural and forest commodities have been developed by faculty, staff, students and post-doctoral researchers in various programs. These advances have been made through the collection and utilization of genetic diversity, conventional breeding approaches, and cellular and molecular techniques. The PBGB Program provides students with an approach that integrates contemporary biotechnologies with traditional breeding for crop plant improvement.

There is a set of core courses that all PBGB students take including courses in statistics, plant breeding, and cell and molecular techniques and plant molecular biology. Students also participate in PBGB seminar courses that highlight subjects of relevance to plant biotechnology and breeding and genetics. In addition, students select other courses in consultation with their major professor and guidance committee members. These subjects include plant evolution, quantitative genetics, cytogenetics, genetic engineering of plants, and biometry. Students may also take graduate courses in related disciplines including biochemistry, botany and plant pathology, crop and soil sciences, entomology, forestry, genetics, horticulture and zoology.

Research Programs

Currently, 30 faculty members from four departments within the University make up the PBGB faculty (add the link here). Students usually conduct their research project in the department of their major professor. An extensive range of scientific investigations is possible from traditional breeding, selection, and inheritance studies for simple and quantitative traits to tissue culture, plant transformation, and molecular genetic analysis. Studies on yield, stress, disease resistance, and quality components are ongoing as well as ecological ones in field-oriented programs. Most programs combine the breeding-selection for cultivar development with cellular and molecular technologies such as gene mapping or transformation.