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PhD project: Genomic selection in apple


PhD project: Genomic selection in apple



Resistant cultivars are cornerstones of successful and sustainable agriculture. Growing cultivars being resistant to diseases allows reducing the use of pesticides which is increasingly requested for environmental, political, social and market-based reasons. The aim of plant breeding is to make such cultivars available. However, breeding of certain crop species requires long and elaborate selection processes.

Modern breeding and selection methods have the potental to increase the selection efficiency. In the Agroscope plant breeding programs for apple trees, wheat and grapes, marker-assisted selection (MAS) has become routine for a few traits, mostly monogenetically controlled resistances to pathogens. However, for many important polygenetically controlled traits (e.g. fruit traits), molecular markers are not available. Genomic selection (GS) could complement MAS and help to increase genetic gains in apple, which is one of the most important fruit crops in Switzerland and worldwide.



  • Assessment of fruit traits in an established GS training population of apple
  • Development and validation of statistical models for GS in apple for fruit traits (conducted in collaboration with partners from other European countries, INRA Angers in particular, where part of the PhD could be performed)



  • MSc in agricultural sciences or plant biology, with excellent qualifications in plant breeding
  • Solid basis in statistics (mandatory)
  • Achievement-oriented, open-minded personality with good capacity for teamwork
  • Communication and IT skills
  • Knowledge of German is advantageous



Agroscope is an innovative research institute for agriculture and nutrition, run according to the principles of New Public Management. Agroscope is part of the federal administration and is attached to the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER. It has research stations at a number of sites around Switzerland but its head office is in Bern (Liebefeld). ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ,, is a world leading University situated in the heart of Europe, pioneering solutions to the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

Together, Agroscope and ETHZ are offering a PhD position to implement GS in apple. We offer to work in two young and multidisciplinary research teams (Breeding Research at Agroscope and Molecular Plant Breeding of ETHZ). Both Agroscope and ETHZ have excellent research facilities with well-equipped laboratories, greenhouses, climate chambers and agricultural fields. You will enjoy flexible working hours and good employee benefits. You will be enrolled as a doctoral student at ETH Zurich.


Place of Work

Agroscope, Wädenswil and ETH Zurich (centre)

Salary Category

According to the guidelines of the Swiss National Science Foundation


100%, Starting date: May 2018 or by agreement, for a duration of three years



For further information: Dr. Andrea Patocchi, Head of Breeding Research group, phone +41 58 460 63 13 or Prof. Bruno Studer, Head of Molecular Plant Breeding group +41 44 632 01 57.

If this challenge appeals to you and you meet our requirements, we look forward to receiving your online application to (REF. PhD_ GS_Apple)

Online applications consist of a single PDF containing an application letter, CV, copy of certificates/diplomas (MSc &BSc) and e-mail addresses of two referees. This position is open until filled (deadline for applications: March 15th 2018).


Agroscope, CH

Printed from on 24/02/18 12:23:00 PM

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