PhD Position in Hemp Modelling, Cultivation and Breeding at WU and UCSC, 2012

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Hemp is a sustainable high-yield crop well adapted to most European conditions, with advantageous environmental and agronomic characteristics. Traditionally cultivated for the fibres, seeds and psychoactive substances, hemp is now considered an ideal crop to produce innovative biomaterials. Once a key industrial crop for fibre, hemp production declines in the last century and was displaced by cotton and synthetic fibres. Therefore, hemp has not been subject to the intensive breeding that has driven great improvements in major crops in the last 50 years. However, there is growing renewed interest in hemp because it requires little water and biocide, suppresses weeds efficiently, and provides fibre and oil of super quality. In the framework of the recent EU-FP7 funded project ‘MultiHemp’ (Multipurpose crops for industrial bioproducts and biomass), we are looking for a motivated candidate to carry out field trials and perform crop modeling in order to develop strategies for optimisation of cultivation and breeding in hemp. Field trials to evaluate the effect of agronomic practices on yield of fibres and seeds, and on main quality traits will be carried out at UCSC (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy). Agronomic practices evaluated will include plant density, nitrogen application, harvesting time and type of sowing. Specific field trials will be carried out to evaluate the response of hemp to sod seeding in comparison with conventional sowing systems. Using physiological and morphological data collected during field trials and from other partners of the project for model parameterisation and validation of an existing crop model GECROS. Developing new algorithms for the GECROS model to be able to predict hemp quality traits. Crop modelling to optimize hemp cultivation. Use the improved GECROS to simulate the effect of genotype-environment-management interactions on fibre yield and quality. A specific aim is to advance the agronomic practices to improve environmental sustainability and technical suitability of hemp cultivation for specific end use destinations. Developing a gene-based crop model to aid hemp breeding. Use of the genomic information to be available from other workpackages of MultiHemp to develop combined modelling and genetic mapping approach for unravelling the complexity of yield quality traits in hemp, for understanding of gene-to-quality trait relationship and, as a consequence, for assisting crop breeding.

-The successful candidate will conduct experimental work in UCSC (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy), and perform model research in Centre for Crop Systems Analysis of WU (Wageningen University), and is expected to defend his(her) thesis in WU in four years. -Suitable candidates should have, or are expected to obtain soon, an MSc degree in Plant Sciences or Crop Sciences with a multidisciplinary profile. -Research experience in plant/crop physiology and modeling is an advantage. You should have a good command of the oral and written English language and a Certificate of English Proficiency is required.

Deadline: 10 October 2012

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