Plant breeders (also known as geneticists) undertake scientific research into plant and crop-based agriculture with the aim of improving plant breeding techniques and developing new strains of crops.
Plant geneticists have enhanced the traditional work of crossing existing plants and selecting new strains. Their expertise allows quicker, more accurate work by selecting the plants containing the genes of interest.
Employers plant breeders
- Commercial plant breeding companies
- Specialist seed producers
- Biotechnology and genetic engineering firms
- International research institutes
- Government research agencies
- produce research aims and objectives, and predict the cost of the work
- research methods and techniques for improving plant breeding
- identify and select plants exhibiting desirable traits, based on natural genetic variation
- cross plants to produce new breeding material for field and glasshouse trials
- analyze and scientifically assess plant breeding in laboratory and field trials and select the best varieties
- conduct scientific projects, which may be laboratory based, especially in the winter months
- multiply up and produce virus-free plants
- maintain detailed records throughout the research and development cycle
- manage, support and train technical and field staff
- keep up to date in the fast-moving area of science and translate ideas from scientific literature into new approaches to breeding problems
- monitor the activities of competitors (in commercial settings) and develop a product market profile
- respond to enquiries from farmers, agronomists and other professionals
- write and present work to other scientists and publish scientific findings
- liaise with and visit other scientists, commercial breeders and funding bodies.
A degree in biological sciences, biotechnology, botany, genetics, agriculture, horticulture or crop or plant science is normally required. A relevant postgraduate qualification may also be necessary.
- enthusiasm, commitment and a strong interest in plants and plant science
- good problem-solving skills
- excellent oral and written communication skills
- the ability to carry out work independently and with patience
- a flexible approach
- the ability and stamina to undertake research and long-term projects
- the skills to manage a busy laboratory
- strong team-working skills
- an analytical and investigative mind
- computer literacy and technical skills, as most laboratories are highly computerised.