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Using state-of-the-art association genetics in potato to clone and study functional disease resistance genes (Ref: CTP-SAI-039)


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  Dr Ingo Hein, Dr M Bayer, Dr Jonathan Snape  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Potato is the third most important food crop and consumed by over a billion people in the world. More than 350 million tons of potato were produced in 2020. It is estimated that approximately 25% of the crop is lost to diseases. Since many diseases can be controlled by members of the nucleotide-binding, leucine-rich-repeat family of disease resistance genes (NLRs), we have developed targeted enrichment sequencing (RenSeq) to specifically study these genes in potatoes.

This PhD project will offer the successful PhD student candidate the opportunity to further develop and apply our established association genetics approach to identify new genes that offer control to important potato diseases. 

By elucidating the genes responsible for resistances against diverse pathogens of potato and understanding their individual mechanisms, we will achieve significant scientific impact and also provide new means for industry to protect potatoes from diseases. Thus, this project bridges fundamental research with immediately applied research. 


The Objectives of this project are to further develop and apply RenSeq-based association to potato diseases such as late blight, wart disease, common and powdery scab, as well as Spraing, that have been relatively intractable until recently. 

We will combine existing RenSeq data with phenotypic observations to:

a) predict candidate genes for the resistances, 

b) demonstrate functionality of NLRs, and

c) develop markers for breeding


This PhD will be based at the James Hutton Institute and registered with the University of Dundee.


Students will have access to training opportunities through the University of Dundee to complement their scientific development. This will be augmented by training in key bioscience areas such as statistics through the CTP-SAI. 

There will be additional skills training to enhance employability and research capability. All CTP-SAI students will receive Graduate Training in Leadership and Management from MDS (www.mds-ltd.co.uk). Additionally, students will create their Personal Development Plan (PDP) to identify their development needs and areas of strength. Each student will receive individual coaching and mentoring pertinent to their career plans and skills development in addition to the scientific project supervision. 


Placements are a key feature of CTP and UKRI-BBSRC expects all doctoral candidates on a CTP programme to undertake a placement. Placements can be in the form of research placements (3-18 months duration) or used more flexibly for experiential learning of professional skills for business and/or entrepreneurship. All placements are developed in collaboration between the partners with input from the doctoral candidate. 


Contact Ingo Hein (https://www.dundee.ac.uk/people/ingo-hein) for an informal discussion on the research content of this PhD.

Beginning in October 2023, the successful candidate should have (or expect to have) an Honours Degree (or equivalent) with a minimum of 2.1 in Plant Science, Applied Statistics, or other related science subjects. Students with an appropriate Masters degree are particularly encouraged to apply.

We welcome UK, EU, and international applicants. Candidates whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. Candidates should check the requirements for each host organization they are applying to, but IELTS 6.5 (with no component below 6.0) or equivalent is usually the minimum standard. 

Anyone interested should complete the online application form before the deadline of 6th January 2023. Interviews will take place at the end of January/beginning of February 2023.

Please contact [Email Address Removed] for further application details.

Apply now

Funding Notes

This studentship is for four years and is fully funded in line with UKRI-BBSRC standard rates. These are:
An annual maintenance stipend of £17,668, fee support of £4,596, a research training support grant of £5,000 and conference and UK fieldwork expenses of £300.
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