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The Application of Genomics and Genetics into a Commercial Strawberry Breeding Programme to Dissect Yield Traits

Project Description

An exciting opportunity is available to develop the application of genomics technologies into an established commercial strawberry breeding programme. This industry driven 4 year PhD project is funded by Edward Vinson Ltd ( a leading soft fruit breeder. The project offers the successful candidate the opportunity to develop a range of skills in strawberry breeding based at the Edward Vinson breeding farm close to Faversham in Kent. This will be complimented with cutting edge training in genomic breeding technologies and associated statistical techniques. The successful candidate will primarily be based at Edward Vinson Ltd where they will receive practical training in commercial plant breeding techniques and will also spend periods at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee to develop molecular approaches to accelerate the breeding cycle.
Edward Vinson Ltd have a traditional strawberry breeding programme that began in 1986 and has released a number of popular varieties such as Sweet Eve and Eves Delight. They now seek to implement molecular breeding tools and technologies to improve genotype selection and accelerate the release of new cultivars.
Previously published literature demonstrates the feasibility of developing marker assisted breeding in allo-octoploid strawberry. The objective of the PhD is to develop and apply these tools within the Edward Vinson breeding programme. The successful student will work with a biparental population established on the farm in Kent. A key element of the project will be the development of a crop husbandry and phenotyping strategy to quantitatively assess key traits associated with the yield trait. Fruit will also be collected for other traits of interest (e.g. brix, sugar/acid profile, total anthocyanins) to be analysed in Dundee. Genetic markers will be identified using a strawberry genotyping array to allow the analysis of genetic markers within the population. Strawberry is an allo-octoploid crop for which statistical tools are limited therefore part of the project will be associated with the development and testing of robust methods for linking genotype to phenotype.
The successful candidate will benefit from close interaction with industry where they will work extensively with the EV breeding team comprising Dr. Graham Clarkson, Breeding Director and Dr. Guillaume Daverdin, an experienced molecular breeder.
The appointed student receive training in commercial breeding approaches and wet molecular biology techniques such as DNA and RNA extraction, sequencing and marker development. Training in statistical genetics will be provided although a familiarity with statistics would be desirable.
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Funding Notes

The studentship is funded by Edward Vinson for a maximum 4 year study
Applicants should have a 2:1 honours degree.
Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in February 2020. A more detailed plan of the studentship is available to candidates upon application. The funding is available to UK/European student applications.

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