The Vavilov Method: Utilizing Genetic Diversity

Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov (1887-1943), one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century, is best known for his ideas in evolutionary genetics, such as the law of homologous series in variation and the theory of centers of origins of cultivated plants. Vavilov was one of the first to explore and actively collect wild relatives of domesticated crops and early landrace varieties, recognizing the importance of preserving genetic diversity and its utilization for future crop improvement. Global climate change, environmental degradation, population expansion, and limited land and water resources are challenges that agriculture is faced with in the 21st century. Today, Vavilov’s concepts are more important than ever. The potential for genetic diversity stored in wild crop species is playing an important role on world food security and economic development. The Texas A&M Plant Breeding symposium will bring together a number of experts working on conserving, collecting, and effectively utilizing genetic diversity in modern plant breeding.



Memorial Student Center (MSC) • Bethancourt Grand Ballroom • Room 2300 CDE


Texas A&M University • College Station, Texas

Guests driving to the symposium are encouraged to park in the hourly paid visitor parking at the University Center Garage. 

Most Aggie Spirit Bus routes stop at the Memorial Student Center. 

For more information regarding parking and public transit, click here

Event Schedule

Wednesday, February 15

Opening Sessions

Sessions located in Rudder Tower Room 601

** Limited Space Available, Register Now**


11:20    Doors open/Lunch Begins

11:50    Welcome - Texas A&M Symposium Committee

12:00   Dr. Paul Gepts, U.C. Davis - "Where Does a Plant Breeder Go to Find Diversity"

12:30    Dr. Colin Khoury, USDA-ARS/CIAT- Laptop Session

1:00      Coffee Break

1:15       Dr. Susan McCouch, Cornell University - Case Study: “Application of Creative Techniques to Use Exotic Diversity for Plant Breeding”

1:45      Panel Discussion


2:45     Meet and Greet

3:00     Brian Pfeiffer, Texas A&M University - "The Contribution of Breeding to Yield Advances in Sorghum"

3:15      Pablo Gonzales, University of Wisconsin-Madison - "Genomic selection and genotype by environment interaction in a wheat breeding program including environmental information"

3:30     Nolan Bentley, Texas A&M  University - "The Characterization of Pecan Germplasm Using Genotyping by Sequencing (GBS)"

3:45     Dereck Barchenger, New Mexico State University - "Anticipatory Breeding for Phytophthora Blight Resistance in Chile Pepper"

4:00    Opening Session Ends – Graduate Student Organizing Committee


Thursday, February 16

7:30        Student Poster Competition  

8:00        Check-in / On-site registration


8:30        Welcome – Graduate Student Organizing Committee

8:40        Welcome – Dr. Craig Nessler, Texas A&M AgriLIfe Research

8:55        Dr. Colin Khoury, USDA-ARS/ CIAT - "N.I. Vavilov and the Geography, Conservation, and Use of Crop Diversity"

9:45        Dr. Paul Gepts, U.C. Davis  - "The Concept of Vavilovian Centers of Origin as Applied to Phaseolus, a Genus with Multiple Domestications"

10:35      Coffee Break


10:50     Heather Rose Kates, University of Florida - "Determining genetic relationships among all wild and domesticated pumpkin and squash (Cucurbita) species provides a framework for domestication-genomics studies in Cucurbita"

11:05       Susan McCouch, Cornell University- "Linking genome wide association studies (GWAS) and genomic selection (GS) to better utilize natural variation in rice"

12:00      Lunch


12:55      Dr. Charles Simpson, Texas A&M University- "Collecting, Preserving and Utilizing Genetic Diversity in Arachis"

1:45        Mitchell Schuman, Texas A&M University - "Identifying potential nesting of fiber quality alleles within the population structure of obsolete U.S. cotton cultivars "

2:00       Dr. L.J. Grauke, USDA-ARS - "Carya: The Next Generation"

2:50        Poster Session


3:50       Dr. Emily Combs, DuPont Pioneer - "Diversity Breeding at DuPont Pioneer"

4:40       Closing Remarks – Tabare Abadie, DuPont Pioneer

4:50       Closing Remarks – Graduate Student Organizing Committee

5:00       Symposium Ends

6:00       Evening Social and Awards Ceremony at Café Eccell