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PhD Position: Sustainability Improvement of the potato crops facing environmental stresses

WorkplaceNyon, Lake Geneva region, Switzerland
Duration4 years
Occupation rate
Job StartMay 2021 or as agreed

Agroscope job vacancy:

PhD Position: Sustainability Improvement of the potato crops facing environmental stresses

In a global changing climate, occurrences of drought with high temperature and water shortage are likely to increase to more dramatic levels, leading to decreased yield and quality losses in crops. In potato production, drought causes a decrease in tuber size, number and quality characterized by reducing the starch content and inducing inherent disorders such as growth crack and hollow heart. High variability can be found in potato plant response to drought, due to (i) environments, according to location and year of production with variations in timing, duration and severity of stress, and (ii) genotypes with diversity in potato cultivar susceptibility and tolerance. In order to facilitate potato selection on drought resistance, it is needed to better characterize potato plant response to such abiotic stress, to efficiently screen for genetic diversity and genotype/environment interactions. As new and performant phenotyping tools are now available, it is still needed to increase our understanding of stress responses at different biological organization scales in order to facilitate adequate diversity monitoring and highlight reliable targets for selection. This PhD project aims to identify, among a set of contrasted genotypes selected under different field trials environmental conditions, mechanisms at molecular, metabolic, cell and tissue level, associated with potato plant adaptative/acclimative response to drought.


  • From a database build from Agroscope variety testing trials (5 locations, 500 varieties and 25 years) and tuber yield and starch content measurements, models will be developed to predict tuber yield and quality components under refined pedoclimatic envirotypes and evaluated genotype x environment interactions.
  • From selected contrasted genotypes and predictable dry environments, field trials will be realized for high throughput phenotyping monitoring development by remote sensing tools (drone imaging, phenocams). Concurrently, pot trials will be achieved, in order to decipher underlying mechanisms of plant response to drought.
  • Differences among cultivars will be characterized regarding the drought - induced changes in tuber growth and internal defects (NMR imaging), leaf water distribution and its impact on biotic stress response, C & N metabolisms and gene expression for starch metabolism, ABA and other drought-responsive genes.


  • Master degree in agronomy, environmental science, biology or a related field.
  • Advanced knowledge in plant physiology and especially in plant adaptive responses to abiotic stress.
  • Good knowledge of water relations, sink-sources relations, structural and functional properties of cell walls and membranes.
  • Knowledge of physico-chemical methods of functional exploration of living organisms.
  • Good knowledge of statistical data processing and database management tools. Interest in interdisciplinary work.
  • Ability for scientific communication, French and English written and spoken.

We offer

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). The variety and crop management group is based in Nyon (Switzerland), in the Leman Lake area. The work will be carried out in close collaboration with UMR IGEPP in Rennes (France). The PhD work will be organized in France (IGEPP) for pot trials from January to May in 2022 and 2023, and in Switzerland (Agroscope) during the other periods.

We offer a stimulating work environment in a multidisciplinary research team as well as a close support throughout the project. Agroscope and UMR IGEPP has excellent research facilities with well-equipped laboratories, greenhouses, climate chambers and sites for field experiments and field studies. You will profit from flexible working time and good employee benefits.

Contact and Address

If this challenge appeals to you and you meet the requirements profile, we look forward to receiving your online application at human.resourcesagroscope.admin.ch, Ref.44950. Applications consist of a single PDF containing an application letter, CV, copy of certificates (MSc &BSc) and Email addresses of 2 referees.

Please note that we cannot consider applications from recruitment agencies. For
further information regarding this post, please contact Dr. Brice Dupuis, phone + 41 58 460 47 48; ( brice.dupuisagroscope.admin.ch ). Start date: May 2021 or as agreed.

Duration: 4 years.
Place of work: 1260 Nyon (Switzerland) and Université de Rennes (France)



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In your application, please refer to myScience.ch and reference JobID 52124.