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PhD Studentship: Molecular Breeding in Raspberry to Improve Fruit Quality

Cranfield University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Cranfield
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £15,609 stipend, and this studentship will pay registration fees for 3 years
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 27th September 2021
Closes: 27th December 2021
Reference: SWEE0160

Start date:   14/02/2022   

Fee status of eligible applicants: UK only

Duration of Award:  3 years

Supervisors- 1st Supervisor: Dr Zoltan Kevei    2nd Supervisor: Prof Andrew Thompson    3rd Supervisor: Dr Fady Mohareb    4th supervisor: Dr M. Carmen Alamar

Sponsored by Edward Vinson Ltd and the "Cranfield Industrial Partnership PhD" scheme, this studentship will provide a stipend of £15,609, and will pay registration fees for 3 years.

Fully-funded studentship

An opportunity has arisen for a fully-funded PhD studentship through a collaboration between Cranfield University and Edward Vinson Ltd, a Kent-based soft fruit breeding company. The aim of the project to perform a "genome-wide association study" (GWAS) on a collection of raspberry germplasm to find genes linked to fruit quality traits. GWAS is a method used to associate DNA variations with plant traits using a large diverse population of individual plants. The study will improve our understanding of the genetic mechanisms controlling fruit traits such as shelf-life, colour, texture and flavour, and the results will allow Edward Vinson Ltd to apply DNA markers to accelerate their breeding of novel elite raspberry cultivars. This project builds on recent BBSRC-funded work in which Cranfield developed a chromosome level genome assembly and high-resolution genetic map of raspberry; these genomic resources will underpin the PhD project.

World raspberry production has doubled in the last 15 years, with the UK becoming one of the top 10 producers. Despite this increase in popularity and raspberry’s small genome, molecular genetics in raspberry is relatively underdeveloped in comparison to most other crops including other major soft fruit crops such as strawberry. There is now increased activity and competition to breed novel high quality, high yielding raspberry cultivars, and we seek to use our recently developed genetic and genomic resources to drive forward molecular breeding in raspberry.  

Edward Vinson Ltd is a well-established UK company, breeding, propagating, and growing soft fruits for most major UK supermarkets. Over the last 30 years, their breeding program successfully released very popular varieties that are now grown worldwide. Edward Vinson Ltd intends to invest further in genetic research and molecular breeding for traits related to fruit quality and shelf-life, making use of their large raspberry germplasm collection to breed best-selling raspberry cultivars that meet consumer preferences.

The student will be trained to carry out extensive physical and biochemical analyses of strawberry characteristics and to link the resulting data with genetic information through bioinformatics. The experience obtained by the student will address a skills gap in data-driven biology, and by obtaining a balance of skills in experimental biological sciences and bioinformatics, they will have a highly desired profile for working in life sciences in general and in plant breeding in particular, either in academia or industry.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first- or second-class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. The project is most suited to graduates of the Life Sciences and Agricultural Sciences. Practical experience in genetics, molecular biology, analytical biochemistry, bioinformatics and/or plant breeding are desirable, but not essential.

How to apply

To apply, please click “Apply” above.

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