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Mechanisms and genetics of dormancy release in raspberry.

Project Description

Staff in Cell and Molecular Sciences at The James Hutton Institute have a distinguished track record of research in plant and crop science, including genetic and genomic analysis. They have contributed to international consortia conducting whole genome sequencing of important crop plants. This knowledge has enabled the identification of genes underlying key traits and provided the underpinning background knowledge to develop populations and molecular markers that have been deployed in commercial breeding programmes through James Hutton Limited (JHL).
New predictive genomic technologies such as genomic selection (GS) and genome wide association studies (GWAS) are now state-of-the-art in plant breeding. Plant genome sequences has allowed populations of plants densely covered with molecular markers to be analysed using computational methods with traits assigned breeding values so that lines can be selected at a very early stage. This allows fast tracking of fewer numbers of candidate lines for field phenotyping and typically decreases the number of field generations by half. Together with new ‘speed breeding’ techniques that accelerate the growth cycle from seed to seed, has led to a major step change in plant breeding.
The Mylnefield Trust recognise the needed to foster skills in contemporary plant breeding and enable a career path for future leaders in genetics and breeding. They will fund three trainee plant breeders to study for a PhD at The James Hutton Institute starting one per year over the next 3 years.
In woody perennial plants, bud break represents a key developmental transition in which the dormant meristem is activated and growth resumes. In temperate crops, a key factor influencing dormancy release is the accumulation of sufficient chilling over the winter months. Such a mechanism prevents premature bud burst during warmer winter days that could result in subsequent frost damage. The raspberry crop has a significant chilling requirement (~1500 h below 4oC) and uneven bud burst is a key and increasingly significant factor negatively influencing crop yield. Despite the importance of dormancy control for not only raspberries but also other perennial fruit crops, very little is known regarding the mechanisms by which cold or dormancy releasing agents induce the transition to growth. Furthermore, very little is known regarding variation in the chilling requirement or the genetic factors that underlie that variation. This studentship will use a combination of physiological, biochemical and molecular approaches to identify key genes and markers associated with dormancy release and low/high chill for use in plant selections.
Successful students will gain experience in modern molecular breeding and field phenotyping methods. They will also gain experience of the commercial world and network with stakeholders in industry to ensure they had the necessary attributes including KE skills for a successful career in genetics and breeding.

Funding Notes

The studentship is funded by the Mylnefield Trust for a maximum 4 year study
Applicants should have a first-class honours degree or equivalent in a related subject or a 2:1 honours degree plus masters or equivalent. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in October 2019. A more detailed plan of the studentship is available to candidates upon application. The funding is available to UK/European student applications, but Worldwide applicants who possess suitable self-funding are also invited to apply.

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