Heat stress strawberry fruit quality

Enhancing strawberry fruit quality in the face of heat stress: unveiling molecular insights and sustainable management strategies for cool climate varieties

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Strawberry (Fragaria spp.) is an important horticultural crop worldwide and a model system for understanding non-climactic fruit ripening. Strawberry varieties grown in Tasmania have been bred to thrive in cool climates. However, even Tasmania experiences hot summers and these higher temperatures can have detrimental effects on fruit ripening and resulting fruit quality.

The factors controlling the impact of high temperatures on strawberry fruit ripening are not well understood, so adaptive management practices have not yet been developed. In this project we will investigate the biochemical, molecular, and ecophysiological factors affecting strawberry fruit ripening under hot temperature conditions and explore novel approaches to mitigate these factors, thereby improving strawberry fruit quality and marketability under these conditions. Specifically, we will be addressing two pressing grower issues: fruit size (too small in hot weather) and fruit quality (can turn soft in hot weather). We will determine a) the role of plant growth regulators (phytohormones) in strawberry ripening, b) which genes and proteins are involved in regulating fruit ripening and quality and c) management strategies that could be applied to improve fruit quality under hot temperatures. Management strategies will be tested in controlled field trials. Our experiments will allow us to determine which genes could be targeted for manipulation and we will make this information available to the strawberry breeding industry to aid in the development of heat tolerant strawberry cultivars that still perform well in the cool Tasmanian conditions.

This project has been co-designed with Berried In Tas and Pinata Farms. Where relevant, this project will be implemented on commercial farms, the Forthside Vegetable Research Facility and in glasshouse facilities offsite.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Nathan Tivendale


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Sound knowledge of plant physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Practical laboratory skills in plant physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience working with strawberry
  • Knowledge of experience in RNAseq
  • Knowledge of and experience in proteomics
  • Mass spectrometry experience
  • Knowledge of and experience working on plant hormones

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Nathan Tivendale to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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