Dean Spaner


Agricultural Life and Environmental Sciences

Agricultural Food and Nutritional Science

About Me


PhD, McGill University

Job/Research Area 

Plant Breeding / Organic Agriculture 

Wheat Cultivars Registered since 2013:

Canadian Hard Red Spring Wheat (CWRS): Coleman, Thorsby, Go Early, Parata, Zealand,

Tracker, PT782, PT783, PT784

Canadian Northern Hard Red Spring Wheat (CNHR): NH 004


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 MSc 2004 Trees in pastures in Herrera Panama, with special reference to smallscale 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

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.

13) Brian Beres, PhD. 2011. Integrating the building blocks of agronomy into an IPM system for wheat stem sawfly

14) Graham Collier, MSc 2012, Seeding Date and Seeding Rate Effects on Agronomic and Grain Quality Traits of Triticale in Alberta, Canada.

15) Hiroshi Kubota, MSc 2012 Weeds promote greater arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi benefit in organically managed spring wheat cultivation systems.

16) Atif Kamran, PhD 2013. Understanding the flowering gene complex in hexaploid spring wheat

17) Asif Muhammad, PhD 2014. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping and doubled haploid technology for spring wheat improvement.

18) Neshat Pazooki Moakhar, MSc 2014 Evaluation and Comparison of the Agronomic Traits of 100 Wheat Cultivars Grown in Western Canada.

19) Ivan Adamyk, MSc 2014 Biology and control of rust diseases of wheat in western Canada and the need for continuing research.

20) Hua Chen, PhD 2015 Quantitative trait loci and genome-wide association mapping in western Canadian spring wheat

21) Jun Zou, PhD 2016 QTL mapping and genetic studies in the Attila x CDC Go spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) mapping population.

22) Hiroshi Kubota, PhD 2017 Genetic variation of nitrogen use efficiency grown conventional and organic management systems for Canada Western Red Spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.).

23) Khang Nguyen, MSc 2018 The performance of spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L) cultivar mixtures in conventionally and organically managed systems in Western Canada.


COURSES TAUGHT (University of Alberta 2001-2018): 

Pl Sc 324 (Crop Eco-Physiology)
Pl Sc 355 (Grain and Oilseeds)
Pl Sc 221 (Introduction to Crop and Horticultural Science)

AFNS 660 (Post Graduate course in Scientific Communication)

RenR580 (Graduate level Biometric 

AFNS 291 (The Mythical, Agricultural and Nutritional Origins of the 
Mediterranean Diet: taught in Cortona Italy)
AFNS 499(Capstone course in Crop Science)
AFNS 601 (Seminar in Crop Science)

Self Pollinated Crop Breeding (MSc in Plant Breeding 
UniLaSalle Beauvais France)