This PhD position will be based within the Southern Cross Plant Science research centre, at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus in eastern Australia.
Background: Southern Cross University is offering a fully funded PhD scholarship in passionfruit breeding and evaluation. Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis) is cultivated commercially in subtropical and tropical regions of Australia to produce fresh fruit for domestic markets. The growing industry is based on scion varieties that have been clonally propagated for over a decade and are experiencing declines in fruit size and yield. The central goal of the National Passionfruit Breeding and Evaluation Program, managed by Southern Cross University, is to develop new high-yielding varieties with improved agronomic traits that meet consumer demands.
In this project, estimated breeding values based on important traits will be used to optimise the selection of parents and develop an improved system for selecting new varieties. Diverse germplasm from breeding populations, an arboretum and seed bank will be utilised for breeding, evaluation and selection of promising new genotypes with the potential to revitalise the Australian passionfruit industry.
Activities: A unique collection of passionfruit accessions will be characterised to guide the selection of parents for breeding to develop potential replacement varieties for the Australian passionfruit industry.
The work will include:
- A critical review of existing relevant peer-reviewed scientific literature
- Identifying important traits and phenotyping methods for trait measurement
- Developing a breeding goal
- Estimation of breeding values to optimise parental crosses
- Assessing molecular genetic variation in Australian germplasm
- Assessment of genetic variation and potential of breeding for fruit shelf life
- Travel for fieldwork
The successful candidate will be part of a vibrant research group focusing on plant breeding and genetics. This research opportunity will contribute to an existing Hort Innovation project and will involve industry collaboration.