PhD Position in Optimizing Yield and Quality by Predicting Vitality of Seed Potatoes and its Impact on Crop Performance

Wageningen University


PhD Optimizing yield and quality by predicting vitality of seed potatoes and its impact on crop performance

Published on
February 14, 2020

Location Wageningen

We are looking for

Physiological quality of seed potato tubers is crucial for the performance of the subsequent crop. It involves dormancy and physiological age; both are influenced by conditions during tuber growth, during the phase between haulm killing and storage, during storage and between storage and planting. Using modern cultivars and contrasting storage treatments, the project will include studies on the impact of storage temperature on the development of the growth vigour of seed tubers and (in close collaboration with breeding and processing companies) field investigations on the impact of different levels of physiological age on crop performance. The final aim is to create improved protocols and decision support systems for seed potato production, seed storage and management of crops grown from this seed and for different outlets. Wageningen Research will collaborate in the project by analysing tuber samples collected during storage for changes in metabolomics thus supporting the development of a tool that reliably assesses physiological age and predicts its subsequent development for use in decision support systems.
The PhD candidate will carry out the following activities:

  1. Analysing changes in growth vigour of seed tubers during storage of contrasting cultivars and linking those changes to changes in metabolomic profiles.
  2. Analysing crop performance from seed tubers of different physiological age.
  3. Modelling the development of physiological age of seed tubers from tuber initiation through production and storage until planting.
  4. Modelling crop performance as influenced by physiological age of the seed tubers.


We ask

We are looking for a candidate with the following qualifications:

  • An MSc in the area of plant sciences, agronomy, or ecology.
  • Well-developed modelling skills.
  • Expertise in performing and analysing field experiments, including experience with multi-variate statistics.
  • Excellent oral and written communication in English, and good communication skills in Dutch. This position requires an excellent English language proficiency (a mininum of CEFR C1 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page.


We offer

In principle this is a 48-month PhD position. We offer you a temporary contract for 12 months which will be extended with three years if you perform well. Gross salary per month: € 2325,-  based on full time employment.
In addition, we offer:

  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be determined in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • use the sports facilities on campus.
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment.
We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.


More information

Additional information about this project can be obtained from Prof. Paul Struik ( or Prof. Martin van Ittersum (
You can apply up to and including March 10, 2020
For this position you can only apply online:

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With approximately 30 locations, 6,000 employees, and 12,000 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at the special career site.

The successful applicant will be based at the Centre for Crop Systems Analysis (CSA) and will be co-supervised by the Plant Production Systems Group (PPS). In addition, the candidate will work closely with staff from Wageningen Research in preparing and analysing samples for the metabolomics studies.
CSA is a federation of two chair groups, which are closely interacting in all aspects of their daily activities. The chair groups include Crop physiology and Crop and weed ecology. The candidate will be a member of the Crop physiology chair. Both chairs are strongly committed to excellent research and teaching providing the scientific basis for the development of high-quality plant production in sustainable agro-ecosystems. CSA focuses on understanding the functioning of crops from underlying
physiological and community ecological processes. The Centre for Crop Systems Analysis also seeks synergy with social sciences for greater impact of research and teaching.

In your application, please refer to


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