Dean Spaner


Phone: 780-492-2328
Department: Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science
Office: 4-16D Agriculture/Forestry Ctr
Office Hours: By appointment
Address: University of Alberta
4-16D Agriculture/Forestry Ctr
Edmonton, AB
Canada T6G 2P5


PhD, McGill University

Job/Research Area

Plant Breeding / Organic Agriculture

Major Responsibilities/Research Interests

Our research group works in two general areas:

1) Conventional breeding (and genetic research) of wheat.

2) Agronomy and breeding of wheat for organic agricultural environments.

We work mainly in the fields and in greenhouses. In addition to a fully operational modern research farm and greenhouse facilities, we also have 11 acres of farmland on the South Campus devoted to organic agricultural research. We conduct some research on organic and conventional farms in central Alberta, and in affiliation with the Cereal Development Centre of Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development in Lacombe. We collaborate extensively with many breeding programs within the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada network, and trial much material from CIMMYT in Mexico.

I do not work with genetic transformation technologies, and do not operate a biotechnology laboratory. Students are free to explore inheritance studies within departmentally supported laboratories. I am also interested in agricultural projects related to sustainable technologies in the Developing World, and some graduate students work on such projects..

Examples of MSc and PhD student projects conducted by our group

Theses completed:

1) Alana Kelbert, MSc. 2003 An agronomic, morphological, and breeding examination of lodging in bread wheat.
2) Brian Love. 2004. Trees in pastures in Herrera Panama, with special reference to small-scale farmers.
3) Rory Degenhardt (Co-supervised with Dr. Linda Hall), MSc. 2004. The biology and control of field violet.
4) Shan Lohr, MSc. 2005. Comparison of spring triticale (X Triticosecale Wittmack) microspore pretreatments to reduce doubled haploid production time
5) Dan Stanton, MSc. 2006. Agronomic evaluation of early maturing maize hybrids in central Alberta.
6) Muhamad Iqbal, PhD. 2006. The genetics of earliness in Canadian spring wheat.
7) Heather Mason, PhD. 2006. Aboveground weed competitive ability of spring wheat in organic and conventional management systems.
8) Amelia Kaut, MSc. 2007. Wheat cultivar and cereal species mixture use in organic and conventionally managed agricultural systems.
9) Brian Love, PhD. 2007. Characterization and evaluation of tree, maize, and upland rice genetic resources in the Azuero region of Panama. PhD
10) Jerome Bernier, PhD. 2008. Identification and characterization of quantitative trait loci for drought resistance in upland rice (Oryza sativa L.)
11) Todd Reid, PhD. 2010. The genetics of competitive ability in spring wheat.
12) Alison Nelson, PhD. 2011. Soil microbial communities as affected by spring wheat cultivar and grain mixtures in organic and conventional management systems.


Projects in progress

1) The genetics and breeding of early maturity in spring wheat [Atif Kamran PhD and Hua Chen PhD]
2) Stem sawfly management in wheat (Brian Beres PhD)
3) Soil microbial communities as affected by spring wheat cultivar, cultivar and weeds in organic and conventional systems [Alison Nelson PhD and Hiroshi Kubota MSc]
4) Enhanced doubled haploid production in wheat (Muhammad Asif PhD)
5) Low P tolerance in wheat (Klaus Strenzke MSc)
6) Agronomy of modern Triticale cultivars (Graham Collier MSc)
7) Genetics of rust resistance (Neshat Pazooki MSc)


Undergrad Course: PL SC 355 : Cereals, Oilseeds and Pulse Crop Production
Undergrad Course: PL SC 324 : Crop Physiology and the Environment
Graduate Course: AFNS 660 : Communications in Science


Publications 2005 - 2011

Nelson, A.G., S.A. Quideau, B. Frick, P.J. Hucl, D. Thavarajah, M.J. Clapperton and D.M. Spaner. 2011. The soil microbial community and grain micronutrient concentration of historical and modern hard red spring wheat cultivars grown organically and conventionally in the black soil zone of the Canadian Prairies. Sustainability 3:500-517; doi:10.3390/su3030500.

Reid, T.A., Rong-Cai Yang, A. Navabi, D. Salmon and D. Spaner. 2011. Realized gains from selection for spring wheat grain are different in conventional and organically managed systems Euphytica 177:253-266.

Crystal Snyder and Dean Spaner. 2010. The Sustainability of Organic Grain Production on the Canadian Prairies-A Review. Sustainability: 2(4), 1016-1034; doi:10.3390/su2041016

Love, B., Bork, E.W., and D. Spaner. 2009. Tree seedling establishment in living fences: a low-cost agroforestry management practice for the tropics. AgroForestry Systems 77(1): 1-8.

Todd A. Reid, Rong-Cai Yang, D. Salmon and D. Spaner. 2009. Should spring wheat breeding for organically managed systems be conducted on organically managed land? Euphytica 169:239-252.

Todd A. Reid, A. Navabi, J.C. Cahill, D. Salmon and D. Spaner. 2009. A genetic analysis of weed competitive ability in spring wheat. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 89(4):591-599.

Love, B., Dreisigacker, S., and D. Spaner. 2009. Collection and characterization of maize and upland rice populations cropped by resource-poor farmers in the uplands of Panama’s Azuero region. Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization 7(2): 105-112.

Kaut, A.H.E.E., H.E. Mason, A. Navabi, J. O’Donovan, and D. Spaner. 2009. Performance and stability of performance of spring wheat variety mixtures in organic and conventional management systems in western Canada. The Journal of Agricultural Science 47(2):141-153.

Jérôme Bernier, Kumar, A., Venuprasad, R., Spaner, D., Verulkar, S., Mandal, N. P., Sinha, P. K., Peeraju, P., Dongre, P. R., Mahto, R. N., and Atlin, G. 2009 Characterization of the effect of rice drought resistance qtl12.1 over a range of environments in the Philippines and eastern India. Euphytica 166(2): 207-217

Navabi, A., D.E. Mather, J. Bernier, D. Spaner, and G.N. Atlin. 2009. The use of selective genotyping in plant breeding programs for efficient detection of QTL alleles with large effects. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 118:347-358.

Jérôme Bernier, R. Serraj, A. Kumar, R.Venuprasad, S. Impa, V. Gowda R.P., R. Oane, D. Spaner and G. Atlin. 2009. The large-effect drought-resistance QTL qtl12.1 increases water uptake in upland rice. Field Crops Research 110(2):139-146.

A.H.E.E. Kaut, H.E. Mason, A. Navabi, J.T. O’Donovan, and D. Spaner. 2008. Organic and conventional management of mixtures of wheat and spring cereals. Agronomy for Sustainable Development 28: 363-371.

Jérôme Bernier, Gary Atlin, Rachid Serraj, Arvind Kumar and Dean Spaner. 2008. Breeding upland rice for drought resistance. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 88:927-939.

Mason, H.E., L. Goonwardene and D. Spaner. 2008. Competitive traits and the stability of wheat cultivars in differing natural weed environments on the northern Canadian prairies. Journal of Agricultural Science 146(1): 21-33.

B. E. Love and D. Spaner. 2007. A Review of Agrobiodiversity: its Value, Measurement, and Conservation (In-Situ and Ex-Situ) in the Context of Sustainable Agriculture. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 31 (2): 53-82.

D. Stanton, A.W. Grombacher, R. Pinnisch, H. Mason and D. Spaner. 2007. The effect of hybrid and population density on yield and quality of silage maize in central Alberta. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 87: 867-871.

Iqbal, M., A. Navabi, D. Salmon, Rong-Cai Yang and D. Spaner. 2007. Molecular characterization of vernalization response genes in Canadian spring wheat. Genome 50:511-516.

H. Mason, A. Navabi, B. Frick, J. O’Donovan, D. Niziol and D. Spaner. 2007. Does growing Canadian hard red spring wheat under organic management alter its breadmaking quality? Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 22(3):157-167.

Iqbal, M,.A. Navabi, D. Salmon, Rong-Cai Yang, B.M. Murdock, S.S. Moore & D. Spaner. 2007. Genetic analysis of flowering and maturity time in high latitude spring wheat. Euphytica 154:207-218.

Mason, H.E., A. Navabi, B.L. Frick, J.T. O’Donovan and D. Spaner. 2007. The weed-competitive ability of Canada Western Red Spring wheat cultivars grown under organic management. Crop Science 47:1167-1176.

Annett, L.E*., D. Spaner and W.V. Wismer. 2007. Sensory profiles of bread made from paired samples of organic and conventionally grown wheat grain. Journal of Food Science 72 (4): S 254-260.

Iqbal, M., A. Navabi, D.F. Salmon, Rong-Cai Yang, & D. Spaner. 2007. Simultaneous selection for early maturity, increased grain yield and elevated grain protein in spring wheat. Plant Breeding 126: 244-250.

Iqbal, M., A. Navabi, Rong-Cai Yang, D. Salmon, and D. Spaner. 2007. The effect of vernalization genes on earliness and related agronomic traits of spring wheat in northern growing regions. Crop Science 47:1031-1039.

H. Mason, A. Navabi, B. Frick, J. O’Donovan and D. Spaner. 2007. Cultivar and seeding rate effects on the competitive ability of spring cereals grown under organic management in Northern Canada. Agronomy Journal 99:1199-1207.

Bernier, Jérôme, Arvind Kumar, Venuprasad Ramaiah, Dean Spaner, and Gary Atlin. 2007. A Large-Effect QTL for Grain Yield under Reproductive-Stage Drought Stress in Upland Rice. Crop Science 47: 507-516.

Iqbal, M, A. Navabi, D. Salmon, Rong-Cai Yang, & D. Spaner. 2006. A genetic examination of early flowering and maturity in Canadian spring wheat. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 86(4): 995-1004.

Yang, R.-C., D. Stanton, S.F. Blade, J. Helm, D. Spaner, S. Wright, and D. Domitruk. 2006. Isoyield analysis of barley cultivar trials in the Canadian Prairies. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science 192:284-294.

Navabi, A., M. Iqbal, K. Strenzke, and D. Spaner. 2006. The relationship between lodging and plant height in a diverse wheat population. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 86:723-726.

Navabi, A., Rong-Cai Yang, J. Helm and D. Spaner. 2006 Can spring wheat-growing mega-environments in the northern Great Plains be dissected for representative locations or niche-adapted genotypes? Crop Science 46:1107-1116.

Mason, H. and D. Spaner 2006. Competitive ability of wheat in conventional and organic management systems: a review of the literature. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 86: 333-343.

Kwabiah, A.B., D. Spaner and A.G. Todd. 2005. Shoot-to-root ratios and root biomass of cool-season feed crops in a boreal Podzolic soil in Newfoundland. Canadian Journal of Soil Science: 85: 369-376.

Ross, S.M.*, J.R. King, J.T. O’Donovan and D. Spaner. 2005. The productivity of oats and berseem clover intercrops. I. Primary growth characteristics and forage quality at four densities of oats. Grass and Forage Science 60:74-86.

Ross, S.M.*, J.R. King, J.T. O’Donovan and D. Spaner. 2005. The productivity of oats and berseem clover intercrops. II. Effects of cutting date and density of oats on annual forage yield. Grass and Forage Science 60:87-98.

Degenhardt, R.F., D. Spaner, K.N. Harker, L.L. Raatz and L.M. Hall. 2005 Plasticity, life cycle and interference potential of field violet (Viola arvensis Murr.) in direct-seeded wheat and canola fields of central Alberta. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 84:271-289.

Degenhardt, R.F., D. Spaner, K.N. Harker, W. R. McGregor, and L.M. Hall. 2005. Effect of herbicides on field violet (Viola arvensis) in direct-seeded spring wheat (Triticum aestivum). Weed Technology 19: 359–371.

Love, B. and D. Spaner. 2005. A survey of small-scale farmers using trees in pastures in Herrera province, Panama. Journal of Sustainable Forestry 20(3): 37-65.

Spaner, D., A.G. Todd, A. Navabi, D.B. McKenzie and L.A. Goonewardene. 2005. Can leaf chlorophyll measures at differing growth stages be used as an indicator of winter wheat and spring barley nitrogen requirements in eastern Canada? Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science 191: 393-399.

Degenhardt, R.F., Martin, R., and D. Spaner. 2005. Organic farming in central Alberta: Current trends, production constraints and research needs. The Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 27(2):151-171.