College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Horticulture

Ph.D. Graduate Assistantship

Wenatchee, WA

Application of Phenomics and Genomics in Apple Breeding

Description of Research Opportunity:Apple Trees

Tree fruit breeding introduces a series of new challenges to the breeder, predominantly the length of the breeding cycle and the size of the plant structure required to produce a crop. Apples are highly heterozygous out-crossers and as such, selections are vegetatively propagated for trial and release. There are few identified sources of resistance in apple to fire blight (Erwinia amylovora), a devastating disease that can wipe out whole orchards. In this proposal, our aim is to build on an established project (USDA SCRI RosBREED: Combining disease resistance with horticultural quality in new rosaceous cultivars) to not only train our breeding students to identify new DNA-based tools which will enable pre-selection of germplasm resistant to fire blight but to also work closely with our phenomics experts to establish biosensors for early fire blight detection. Our hypothesis is that using phenomics will allow us to identify resistant germplasm rapidly, and that genomics will allow us to identify markers linked to resistance that can be used to select breeding lines for cultivar development.

The student would be part of a cohort of plant breeding trainees from breeding programs based on wheCosmic Crispat, quinoa, barley, cold season legumes and camelina that will build collaboration and foster learning between the students based on a core set of courses and regular interaction through monthly meetings. The student will have the opportunity to spend time with the different breeding programs although being primarily based at the TFREC in Wenatchee and focused on apple.

Desired Qualifications:

Background related to biology, horticulture, plant breeding, or genetics, with an interest in applied field based plant breeding and genetics.


Please contact Dr. Kate Evans for more details about this opportunity. She can be reached at Interested persons may apply through the Department of Horticulture program at The position needs to be filled by summer 2016.

Assistantship Details:

Graduate assistantships are formal half-time, academic-year appointments accompanied by a summer stipend.  Graduate assistants are also provided tuition waivers, as well comprehensive health (medical/dental) insurance.

Department of Horticulture, PO Box 646414, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6414, 509-335-9502, Contact Us
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