Overcoming the limitations to yield in strawberry


Supervisors: Dr Carrie-Anne Twitchen, Prof Paul Hadley (University of Reading); Dr Mark Else (NIAB-EMR)

This student will be registered with the University of Reading and mainly located at the university campus. Beginning in October 2021, the successful candidate should have (or expect to have) an Honours Degree (or equivalent) with a minimum of 2.1 in Plant Science, Biology, or other related science subjects.


In previous studies carried out at the University of Reading, a technique to produce high-yielding June-bearer strawberry tray plants was established; these plants produced a significantly higher yield compared to those produced under standard commercial conditions. Continued investigation showed that further yield benefits were limited because of source limitation during fruit development.

Objectives and approaches

This PhD projects aims to investigate a number of mechanisms to increase yield performance in these super-elite plants including increasing photosynthetic efficiency through CO2 enrichment, adjusted feed regimes and manipulation of the plants during fruiting (i.e. changing leaf area index, fruit:leaf ratio) and study the effect of these on resource partitioning, berry weight, yield and fruit quality. A secondary aim of this project will be to examine the yield determinants of recently developed, high yielding strawberry lines from UK and overseas breeding programmes. 

This research will benefit the industry by breaking the current yield ceiling in strawberry leading to increased productivity per unit area. The student will be based at the University of Reading and work alongside others within the Soft Fruit Technology Group at the Centre for Horticulture, University of Reading and the Crop Science and Production Systems Department at NIAB EMR. Training will enable the student to develop strong horticultural skills, statistical techniques and significantly develop their knowledge of plant physiology and growth analysis.


The successful candidate will gain a wide range of experience in plant physiology, horticultural skills, and statistical knowledge and its application.


Anyone interested should fill the online application form before the deadline of 8th February 2021. If need further help or clarification, please contact recruitmentctp@emr.ac.uk.

Contact Dr Carrie Twitchen for an informal discussion on research contents.