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Name of scholarship/program

Improving modelling of wheat responses to high temperature stress under climate change

Important description
To address climate change impacts on global food production and food security there is a need for better understanding of crop responses to changes in climatic variability and extremes and integration these response into crop simulation models. Previous assessments have failed to account sufficiently for such effects which, given current predictions of increases in weather extremes under climate change, may lead to a severe underestimation of yield losses. The project will aim to improve the capacity of crop simulation models to model wheat responses to high temperature stress around flowering, a key stage of wheat development.

Wheat is a major food crop in the UK and is particularly sensitive to the effects of heat stress. In particular, short periods of moderately high temperatures shortly before flowering can affect the production, viability and functionality of both pollen and ovules, leading to dramatic reductions in grain number while heat stress shortly after flowering can considerably reduce the potential grain size. Because grain number and grain size are the two determinants of yield these effects can have serious impacts on wheat yield. Although heat waves are currently rare in the UK and northern Europe they do occur and are expected to become more frequent and more severe with climate change.

Very few studies of heat stress connect reductions in seed-set to wheat yield. The difficulty is that some genotypes can compensate for lower grain numbers by increasing seed size. Detailed knowledge is lacking on the response of wheat to high temperature at the most sensitive stages and subsequent compensation. The project will combine analyses at the whole plant and genetic levels with mathematical modelling to identify, characterise and exploit genotypic variation in the tolerance to high temperature as a basis for developing new varieties for a future, warmer UK.

Eligibility and other criteria
(European/UK Students Only)
This research project has funding attached. Funding for this project is available to citizens of a number of European countries (including the UK). In most cases this will include all EU nationals. However full funding may not be available to all applicants and you should read the full department and project details for further information.

Application deadline
* 22 February 2013

Additional information, and important URL

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in a relevant subject. Please note that, due to restrictions on the funding, this studentship is for UK/EU applicants only.Studentship will cover Home/EU Fees and pay the Research Council minimum stipend (£13,590 for 2011/12) for up to 4 years. To apply for this studentship, please submit an application for a PhD in mathematical modelling and crop physiology to the University – see http://www.reading.ac.uk/Study/apply/pg-applicationform.aspx . Please quote the reference GS13-01 in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding Section of your online application.

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