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BARIToNE Project 13 - Defining barley varietal traits for climate change mitigation and adaptation with emphasis on reduced inputs and variable water


   School of Life Sciences

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  Dr L Ramsay, Dr T George, Dr J Russell  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Principal Industrial Supervisor – Klaus Oldach, KWS Lochow GMBH

Principal Academic Supervisors – Dr. Luke Ramsay, James Hutton Institute (JHI)

Additional Supervisors – Dr. Tim George & Dr. Joanne Russell, JHI

This project will be based at the James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie and the appointed student will registered at the University of Dundee as the degree awarding institution.

Climate change and society’s reaction to it will, both directly and indirectly, push agricultural production to have to function in increasingly marginal conditions. We need to utilise the crop diversity available to generate the improved crop varieties that will be adapted to these marginal conditions while at the same time mitigating climate change by reducing N inputs. Understanding the yield architecture under reduced inputs (nitrogen and water) will be key to the future breeding of such varieties and to managing both nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. The genetic control of nitrogen uptake and utilisation will underpin the realised NUE and resilience to abiotic stress, such as variation in water availability, will be key to adaptation.

This project will quantify a range of above and below ground traits associated with climate change mitigation and adaptation, in relevant populations of barley. This study will therefore include detailed dissection of yield architecture and partition of nitrogen as well as an overview of root system architecture.

There are a number of barley populations that are available to the project, but the focus will begin on a Nested Association Mapping (NAM) population produced by KWS using 12 donor parents including barley landraces from a range of environments with a range of inherent stress. This population has been extensively genotyped and a working population of 89 lines has been selected from 352 lines. Importantly previous field trialling has already indicated that this subset includes introgressions from the landrace/older varietal parents that have a beneficial effect on yield and yield stability over a range of environments. Initial research will focus on this core set of lines and derived material.  

In the preliminary experiments the candidate will subject the NAM population to a range of reduced N and variable water availability treatments (field or CE?). Data will be used to derive QTLs for tolerance to reduced N inputs, water stress and a combination of both stresses and their association with a range of developmental and morphological traits. These initial studies will guide subsequent experimentation that will include glasshouse and field phenotyping and molecular physiological studies. The PhD candidate will have the opportunity to develop the project further in the direction of genetics/genomics, plant physiology and nitrogen use and will have the opportunity to work closely with scientists and breeders in KWS, the commercial partner.  

If you would like to discuss this project in more detail, please contact for more information

How to Apply

Please visit the main BARIToNE programme page for more details


Funding Notes

Studentship will cover a full UKRI stipend (currently £15,609/annum) tuition fees, training and travel budget. Part-time study is an option (please indicate on your application) and we offer enhanced support to individuals with primary care responsibilities or disabilities.
Applications are welcome from all nationalities, however the proportion of international students appointed through the BARIToNE CTP is capped at 30% (see the Training Grant T&C's for more information). Applicants are expected to hold (about to achieve) at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or demonstrable equivalent experience) in a relevant subject (e.g. Biology, Genetics, Plant Sciences, Ecology, Soil Science, Computer Sciences etc.).
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