Peter Ruckenbauer graduated at the University of Agriculture in Vienna in 1965 and obtained his doctorate in agricultural science there in 1967 summa cum laude. During his early years at the Institute of Agronomy and Plant Breeding, University of Agriculture (1965-1970) he conducted research on yield physiology and biometrics.
In 1970 he won a British Council Scholarship and spent a year at the Plant Breeding Institute in Cambridge joining in the Wheat Breeding Programme. The next six years he spent at the University of Agriculture in Vienna as lecturer and assistant (1971-1977) with research leaves to the USA, Guatemala and Argentina.
He received his D.Sc. in Plant Breeding in 1977 and became Senior Reader and Senior Researcher in Plant Breeding his main research focuses being breeding and breeding methodology.
In1983 he became full professor of Applied Genetics and Plant Breeding at the University of Hohenheim/Stuttgart in Germany where he was also dean for two years (1987-1989). Here his research concentrated on the adaptation of spring durum wheat and the flowering biology and breeding of field beans. He was founder of the special research unit „Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Hohenheim”.
Back at the University of Agricultural Sciences and later in Tulln he continued the work to lay the foundations of biotechnology in plant breeding with special emphasis on resistance genetics and resistance breeding. These endeavours led to the internationally renowned research on cereal and maize resistance to Fusarium and the virus resistance of oil pumpkins, and later the results in mycotoxin analysis and the introduction of marker based selection.
As a research organizer his greatest achievement was the setting up in 1990 of the Centre of Agrobiotechnology in Tulln where he was founding director and head until his retirement in 2004.
He was president of the Austrian Plant Breeders Association 1999-2003.
During 1998-2001 he was vice-president, and during 2001-2004 president of EUCARPIA.