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Development of Botrytis fabae resistant faba beans

Project Description

Europe faces a protein production challenge. Each year, it imports an average of 40 million tonnes (bean equivalent) of soya bean and soya meal to meet its needs for supplementary protein in feed, but it produces only 8 million tonnes of grain legume seeds. Covering several climatic zones, Europe needs a widely adapted crop with a good disease resistance profile and high protein content to meet this challenge. Faba bean is adapted to a wide range of climates, has a good disease resistance profile, and its seed protein concentration is higher than that of other starchy legumes including pea, so it is an attractive candidate for boosting protein production across Europe. This PhD project is embedded in a large European project called ‘ProFaba’ ( which aims to bring about a step change in breeding of higher yielding and more nutritious faba beans for Europe by bringing together a range of cutting edge technologies for genetic dissection of yield and quality traits. The focus of this PhD is on resistance to the major fungal disease, chocolate spot, caused by the fungal pathogen Botrytis fabae. As a first step, the student will conduct disease resistance screens on a large panel of diverse inbred lines which has been assembled and genotyped as a core resource for the project. Phenotyping will encompass different pathogenic races representing European chocolate spot diversity. From these screens, bean lines displaying both race-specific and non-race specific resistance will be identified and the underlying resistance genes mapped using a genome-wide association approach. Finally, molecular markers linked to the best resistances will be validated in independent segregating populations. Since the same panel is being grown in multi-year trials at five locations across Europe and will be phenotyped for many different agronomic and quality traits, there will be opportunities also to investigate interactions between chocolate spot resistance and environment as well as potential linkages to or tradeoffs with other important traits. The project will provide the successful applicant with an excellent opportunity to train in cutting edge techniques of molecular plant pathology and plant breeding and genetics. The PhD student will be primarily based in the Department of Crop Science ( at Teagasc, Oak Park, but will also spend time at the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading (

To apply for this studentship please submit an electronic copy of your Curriculum Vitae as well as a letter of interest simultaneously to:
Dr Sheila Alves e-mail:
Professor Donal M. O’Sullivan e-mail: .

Applications will be accepted and evaluated periodically until the post is filled.
For further details please contact Dr Sheila Alves e-mail:

Funding Notes

Funding of €22,000 p.a. for four years to cover tuition fees plus stipend available immediately; latest possible start date July 2020
• Applicants should hold or expect to gain a minimum of a 2:1 Bachelor Degree or equivalent in agriculture/agronomy or a related subject.
• Experience in plant phenotyping and plant genetics would be desirable, but full training will be provided.
• Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is open to UK/EU students.

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