Project properties

Title Can we steer plant development to improve potato yield?
Group Plant Breeding, Laboratory of
Project type thesis
Credits 24-36
Supervisor(s) Sara Bergonzi, Li Shi
Examiner(s) Christian Bachem
Contact info S. Bergonzi (
Begin date 2020/03/01
End date 2021/10/31
Description Potato is the most important staple food crop in the world after cereals. Its cultivation is widespread in all continents and increasing over time. In our team we use a variety of molecular approaches to investigate aspects of potato plant development with the final goal of positively impacting on potato yield.

For this project we will use a quantitative genetic approach to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying aspects of potato plant development including tuberisation, flowering and senescence. The chosen mapping population was already grown in 2019 and preliminary data highlighted segregation in several traits of interest. We will run a new field trial from spring 2020 and, together with the genotyping data becoming available in the same period, we will be able to perform QTL mapping on old and newly generated phenotypic data with the aim to pinpoint the genomic regions involved in the regulation of the traits.

The project offers the possibility to learn different skills such as (field) experimental design, (field) phenotyping of plant development and QTL analyses. Additionally, there is the possibility to perform more detailed molecular investigation on candidate genes in the laboratory using (q)PCR, cloning and protein interaction techniques.
Finally, the project is performed in close collaboration with two breeding companies offering the possibility of interaction and exposure to the industrial partners.
Given the size of the experiment we are looking for one or more students.
Used skills Field design and phenotyping, QTL analyses, (q)PCR, cloning, protein interaction (e.g. Yeast 2 hybrids)
Requirements Preferably courses like MOB-30806 (regulation of plant development), PBR30806 (Design of plant breeding), GEN-30306 (Genetic Analysis, Tools and Concepts)