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Genetic Analysis of Complex Traits in Autotetraploid Crops including Potato

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, January 06, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Autopolyploidy is a characteristic shared by many important crops including potato, coffee, leek, sugarcane, alfalfa and some economically important aquaculture animals, including Atlantic salmon and trout. In particular, cultivated potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) have become the 3rd most important crop in the world after rice and wheat and therefore play an important role in addressing world food security. Traditional potato breeding has focused on phenotypic rather than genotypic selection to improve complex agronomic traits such as yield and disease resistance. Development of new cultivars with improved characteristics is a lengthy process that usually spans 10-15 years, and often involves species introgression to broaden the genetic base and ploidy manipulations to overcome crossability barriers between species. To improve the efficiency of potato breeding will require the development of improved strategies for genetic marker assisted selection and for shuffling the genome through meiotic recombination, thus creating new variation. To this end, this project will focus on the development of statistical and/or methodological and experimental tools for genetic analysis of complex traits in potato, or other autopolyploid species.

What will you be doing?
This project provides diverse opportunities to develop novel statistical methods and computational tools to enable the mapping of Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) in autotetraploids through linkage analysis or Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) approaches. In addition, you may work on comparative genomic and population genetic analyses in diploid compared to autotetraploid species. On the experimental side, you could focus on the molecular cytogenetic analysis of meiotic recombination in potato. This project would pioneer in establishing a high resolution atlas and time course of the stages of meiosis in potato and build upon existing methods using fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) to enable individual meiotic chromosomes to be reliably distinguished and tracked. This will enable an in depth study of the behaviour of meiotic chromosomes in modern potato cultivars, including their pairing behaviour, frequency and distribution of meiotic recombination. There will also be an opportunity to explore the effects of the commonly used ploidy manipulations in potato breeding on meiotic recombination.

The results of this project will inform future potato breeding strategies and hence contribute to world food security.

Funding Notes

This studentship is competition funded by the BBSRC MIBTP scheme:View Website
Deadline: January 6, 2019
Number of Studentships available: 30
Stipend: RCUK standard rate (plus travel allowance in Year 1 and a laptop).
The Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP) is a BBSRC-funded doctoral training partnership between the universities of Warwick, Birmingham and Leicester. It delivers innovative, world-class research training across the Life Sciences to boost the growing Bioeconomy across the UK.
To check your eligibility to apply for this project please visit: View Website

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 42.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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