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BARIToNE Project C - Identifying novel traits and molecular markers for improved N-use efficiency in malting barley


   School of Life Sciences

  ,  Tuesday, May 31, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Principal Industrial Supervisor – Dr. Alex Park, AB InBev

Principal Academic Supervisors – Dr. John Foulkes, University of Nottingham

Additional Supervisors – Dr. Guillermina Mendiondo, University of Nottingham

This project will be based at the School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham and the appointed student will registered at the University of Nottingham as the degree awarding institution.

Developing cultivars with high yields and malting quality whilst minimising N inputs is a key target for the production of sustainable barley crops. High N applications are uneconomic and pose a potential threat of nitrate pollution of ground water as well as emissions of GHGs due to the release of N2O. To develop N-efficient cultivars will require improved understanding of the genetic and physiological bases of both N uptake and utilization. The project will identify novel genotypes expressing high N-uptake efficiency and N-utilization efficiency, understand the mechanisms underlying the improved N efficiency and investigate the genetic bases of these traits. The plant material phenotyped will include elite UK and European malting barley cultivars and landraces in the public domain and an elite GWAS panel from the ABI breeding programme. In years 1 and 2, a panel of ten elite cultivars and landraces will be phenotyped at a field site at Nottingham University at four fertilizer N rates ranging from sub-optimal to a supra-optimal N rates. Physiological analysis will be carried out to understand how the high N-use efficiency genotypes are explained by the different physiological components of: (i) root activity, (ii) leaf/canopy photosynthetic rate and (iii) optimized N remobilization determining the stay green trait. The field studies will utilise shovelomics or electrophysiological or penetrometer methods for quantifying root traits. Photosynthetic traits will be quantified through analysis of multi and hyperspectral reflectance indices. In addition, biomass and N uptake and dry matter and N partitioning will be quantified at critical development stages through the growing season. Malting quality of grain samples will be assessed through analysis of grain N%, germination performance, texture and micro-malting tests (alpha amylase, moisture, protein, beta glucan, DP, FAN, extract, s/t, soluble protein, turbidity, and wort color). From these data, we will understand the bases of the improved for N-efficiency for malting barley genotypes and identify target traits for improved NUE for further genetic analysis. In year 3, a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) study will be carried out phenotyping target traits in a field experiment on an ABI GWAS malting barley panel utilizing a 40,000 SNP array to identify mark-trait associations. The most promising Marker Trait Associations will then be used to search for candidate genes, for which molecular markers will be established for the NUE traits for deployment in the ABI malting barley breeding program.

If you would like to discuss this project in more detail, please contact Dr. John Foulkes () 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 Home students. To be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the UKRI eligibility criteria (found in the Training Grant T&C's here - View Website).
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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