PhD Studentship Developing sustainable, biofortified salad leaves – lettuce molecular genetics and science underpinning breeding with leading grower and supermarket funding

PhD Supervisor: Professor Gail Taylor

Application Deadline: 26 June 2013

Funding: Funded PhD project, fully funded by Vitacress Salads, Sainsbury’s Supermarkets and Shamrock Seeds

PhD Position: 

Our recent research on lettuce and watercress has identified significant genetic variation in these crops for traits associated with enhanced nutritional content linked to cancer prevention and also to increased shelf life. Both characteristics are important for the future development of these leafy crops and the aim of this PhD is to further understand the biology underpinning these traits, alongside the development of molecular markers that can be used in our future breeding. In lettuce, we have identified several QTL for enhanced anti-oxidant capacity and have established the biochemical nature of this trait and developed a molecular marker for future selection. We now wish to extend this approach for enhanced shelf life, focussing on leaf cell developmental patterning and how cell production and expansion in leaves links to leaf quality and shelf-life. Our approach will be to utilise the new genomic and genetic resources in lettuce, linking traits to genes in a wide diverse collection of lettuce germplasm.

Training opportunity:

This PhD provides an exciting opportunity to join a large research group, well-funded and with several on-going projects including those on association genetics using a SNP chip, next generation transcriptome and sequencing projects and a blend of laboratory and field analysis. There is considerable scope to take this project in a number of directions, but willingness to undertake farm trials in Portugal and Spain with our funders and to travel to work with collaborators in California USA would be required. The project provides an outstanding opportunity to work in both an academic environment but to interact with leading commercial partners, providing the student with a good balance of science and commercial experience.

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Applications should be submitted online at and general enquiries should be made to Professor Gail Taylor at 

Closing date: Mid June 2013. Interviews will be held in July 2013.

The project is funded for 3 years and welcomes applicants from the UK and EU who have or expect to obtain at least an upper second class degree in a Biological or allied subject. Funding will cover fees and a stipend at current research council rates of £13,726 per annum.

Due to funding restrictions this is only open to EU/ UK applicants

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