The Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology Department is pleased to host diverse crop breeding and research programs that span conventional and organic production in cereal grains, pulse crops, barley, small-acreage, vegetable production and organic systems. Using traditional molecular biology tools, our breeding programs employ cutting-edge techniques to improve the genetic potential of plants. The result of which are new food products for the security and safety of a global food supply. Additionally, we host dedicated research programs in pollinator health and entomology. 

Crop Breeding Progams

Spring Wheat Breeding Program 

Luther Talbert

Developing hard red spring wheat varieties with genetic traits tailored for Montana's diverse growing environments. 


Winter Wheat Breeding Program 

two faculty in greenhouse lab

Developing new winter  wheat varieties with genetic characteristics tailored for Montana.


Durum Wheat Breeding Program

green wheat field

Developing new durum wheat varieties with genetic characteristics tailored for Montana.


Pulse Crop Breeding Program 

mans hands hold pea seeds

A program dedicated to the breeding of new varieties in pea, lentil and chickpea for Montana and regional growers.


Barley Breeding Program 

mason jars of barley seeds

Working alongside industry and producers to produce new barley lines. The program also includes a Malt Quality Lab.


Small Farms Program

hands holding organic beets

Research and educational activities dedicated to Montana small acreage farmers.


 Faculty Research Groups

Pollinator Health Center

faculty working with bees outside

A dedicated research center working through science to improve pollinator health and mitigate pollinator losses. 


MSU Entomology Group 

faculty and grad student looking at insect cases
The Entomology Group is comprised of faculty representing three academic departments in the College of Agriculture. 

Winifred Asbjornson Plant Science Chair 

The MSU Endowed Chair in cereal genetics and genomics research for Montana.  


Plant Pathology


Mary Burrows

A variety of services includes diagnosis of plant diseases, insect damage, and environmental plant problems, as well as visual assessment of herbicide injury to plants.


SeedPotato Pathology 

hand holding a potato

Providing Montana potato growers with reliable, science-based information designed to give facts on diagnostics, pathogen biology, disease cycles, epidemiology, and current best practices.


Pulse Crop Seed Diagnostics

Pulse crop lab faculty
Increasing pulse crop productivity by reducing pathogen-related decline in crop yield through rigorous testing of seed lots for economically important pathogens.

Research Areas 



hands holding oilseeds
Researching the genetic engineering of plant oils for industrial applications.

Aquatic Weeds 

graduate student kneeling by water

Researching solutions for practical decision making and solutions regarding invasive species.


Associated Research with MAES Research Centers  

producers riding on tractors

Departmental faculty work in concert with faculty stationed with our statewide Department of Research Centers.