PhD Studentship in Crop Sciences: The Impact of Climate Change on the Physiological Determinants of Growth and Yield in Cocoa

University of Reading - Department of Agriculture, Policy and Development

Supervisors:  Dr Andrew Daymond, Prof Paul Hadley

Fully-funded PhD in Crop Physiology

Project Overview:   

Whilst there is broad agreement that future climate change is likely to lead to challenging climatic conditions for many crops, relatively little research has been conducted on the potential effects of climatic changes on tropical perennial crops. The tropical tree crop cocoa (Theobroma cacao) is widely cultivated throughout the humid tropics where it is of considerable economic importance and is the focus of this study. Previous research at the University of Reading has examined the interaction between water deficit and elevated CO2 on the growth and development of different genotypes of cocoa. As part of a long-term programme on climate change in cocoa, the emphasis of this studentship will be to study the interaction between temperature, elevated CO2 and genotype on the physiological processes which determine growth and yield. Long-term experiments will utilise a purpose-built greenhouse designed to study the long term effects of CO2 concentrations and temperature regimes on cocoa. This will be complemented by shorter-term experiments using a suite of controlled environment cabinets. Data collection will include assessments of photosynthetic performance (e.g. gas exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence) and growth analyses. Training will be provided in use of physiological instrumentation, controlled environment facilitates and statistics.

The project provides the opportunity to engage with stakeholders in the confectionary industry. There will also be opportunities for overseas travel.


  • Applicants should hold or expect to gain a minimum of a 2:1 Bachelor Degree or equivalent in an appropriate biological or agriculture subject. Applicants should have an interest in and preferably some practical experience of crop physiology.
  • Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is only open to UK/EU students.

Funding Details:   

  • Starts September 2017
  • £15,009 year award (stipend)
  • Tuition and bench fees covered

How to apply:   

To apply for this studentship please submit an application for a PhD in Crop Sciences

*Important note* Please quote the reference ‘GS17-139’ in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding Section of your on-line application.

Application Deadline:  31st August 2017

Further Enquiries:  

Please note that, where a candidate is successful in being awarded funding, this will be confirmed via a formal studentship award letter; this will be provided separately from any Offer of Admission and will be subject to standard checks for eligibility and other criteria. 

For further details please contact Dr Andrew Daymond (

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South East England