PlantLink Researcher in the Spotlight – Alf Ceplitis

Welcome Alf Ceplitis, Group Manager Population Improvement at Lantmännen and new steering committee member at PlantLink.

-What is currently on top of your research agenda?

I’m leading a group that works on the development and implementation of genomic-prediction based breeding across Lantmännen’s various crop breeding programs. It’s an integral part of our investments in novel breeding methods. Part of this work is done as research collaborations with academia, for example in a number of Grogrund projects

-What led you into your particular field of research?

After finishing my PhD degree in genetics from Lund university, I worked for several years in academia doing theoretical and empirical population genetic research. When I joined Svalöf Weibull (now Lantmännen) as a plant breeder in 2007, there was a growing interest in genomic selection from the plant breeding community. I found that my background made me well suited to begin using genomic selection in practical plant breeding, and so Lantmännen’s spring oat breeding program became the first commercial oat breeding program in the world to fully integrate genomics-based methods in the breeding process.

What are the implications of your research for the society?

Working for Lantmännen I’m contributing to the company’s mission to increase the profitability of our owner’s farms. Given that practically all Swedish farmers also are owners of Lantmännen, I think this is a very important goal if we want to have a viable agricultural sector in Sweden. Taking a larger view, plant breeding plays a fundamentally important role in mitigating climate change and providing for a sustainable future for human life on our planet.

-Finally, let´s say you got unlimited research funds; where would your research be five years from now?

One attractive idea would be to establish a joint industry-academia research centre with the aim of developing crops that can both be grown in a changed future Nordic climate, and help reducing the climate footprint of agriculture. A world-leading institute that can attract the very best researchers and at the same time deliver top performing crops to the agri-food industry. With unlimited funds, anything is possible.