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Understanding phenology and early pod set under high biomass conditions


Faba bean is an important grain legume in Australia. A breeding program to develop suitable varieties for the northern grain growing region of Australia is located at the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding institute, Narrabri. Rust, chocolate spot and viral diseases, such as bean leaf roll virus and bean yellow mosaic virus are major biotic stresses while frost tolerance in early growing season and heat tolerance towards the grain filling period are major abiotic stresses in this region.  


Dr Kedar Adhikari.

Research location

Sydney Institute of Agriculture

Program type



Early sowing in favourable moisture conditions can lead to faba bean biomass production as high as 14 tonnes/ha. However, not enough of this biomass is converted to grain production, resulting in a poor harvest index. Understanding the mechanism of partitioning of this biomass into grain yield and its exploitation can lead to greater yield improvement. Only 15-20% of flowers develop into pods and the rest are aborted. Low temperatures result in poor pod set, whereas temperatures above 30ºC result in flower and pod abortion. Therefore, the effect of temperature on flower and seed development needs to be understood to develop varieties with appropriate phenology in the target environment.

Additional information

The student would undertake lab studies mainly at Cobbitty and field work at the Plant Breeding Institute, Narrabri.  Students will have greater interaction with scientific staff and students working at both locations.

HDR Inherent Requirements
In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1769

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