Mande Semon



Position held:

Upland Rice Breeder

Year of Employment:

June 2006


PhD in Plant breeding and genetics, 2003, Cornell university, USA

Msc in Agronomy and Plant genetics, 1988, University of Arizona, USA

Dues Agronomie, Licence d’enseignement des sciences naturelles, Maîtrise de Génétique: 1982-1984, Université d’Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Specialization/Expertise: Rice Breeding and Genetics: Utilization of a combination of conventional breeding techniques and biotechnology tools such as rice anther culture and rice genetic transformation and molecular markers [QTL identification and Marker Assisted Selection (MAS)] for rice variety development based on intra/interspecific hybridization involving Oryza sativa, Oryza glaberrima and Oryza barthii.

Molecular diversity analysis of the African rice species (Oryza glaberrima) based on microsatellite markers.


  • 17 years in rice research breeding and genetics, molecular breeding and biotechnology with emphasis on the African rice germplasm
    - Upland Rice Breeder;
    - Post Doctoral Associate in molecular breeding (at Cornell University for 3 years);
    - Post Doctoral Fellow in molecular breeding (at AfricaRice for 1½ years);
    - Research Assistant in upland rice breeding (at AfricaRice for 7 years);
  • In addition, 2 years in maize/sorghum breeding, 2 years in sugarcane breeding and a year as technical assistant to a major American seed company affiliate for seed commercialization/dissemination and R&D in Africa before joining AfricaRice.

Major Achievements:

  • Contributed to the development and dissemination of the upland NERICAs through close supervision and participation in participatory variety selection, on farm testing and capacity building  
  • The genetic structure and diversity of the cultivated African rice species O. glaberrima was deciphered based on microsatellite markers, serving as basis for the understanding of species' contribution to rice breeding.
  • Developed several promising intra- and interspecific (O. sativa x O. glaberrima; O sativa x O. barthii) varieties with good grain quality, yield and tolerance to abiotic/biotic stresses, namely to drought and blast, through a strong partnership with African NARS collaborators and Cornell University.
  • Currently my laboratory is involved in (1) screening African rice germplasm for zinc and iron content, (2) global effort in addressing climate change through the development of drought-tolerant rice varieties.
  • African young scientists are continuously trained in my laboratory
  • Has published key research papers in major scientific journals (Genetics and Euphytica among others) dealing with the understanding of the genetic structure of O. glaberrima, the development of the upland NERICA rice, and the agromorphological characterization of O. glaberrima