Protein biomarkers for potato p-age

Determining how the potato proteome changes over the course of aging and identifying protein biomarkers for physiological age

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Potato (Solanum tuberosum) is one of the most important agricultural crops worldwide. This crop is somewhat unique in that it is not grown from seed but from tubers (modified stem storage organs). The age of tubers at planting has enormous impacts on the yield and quality of the resulting potato harvest. Tubers are known to have two different, yet related, ages: chronological age and physiological age. The chronological age is simply the time elapsed since the tuber was harvested; the physiological age (p-age) refers to the biochemical state of the potato and progresses at different rates, depending on the environmental conditions and the potato variety. Each potato variety has an optimal p-age at which it should be planted to maximise the uniformity, yield and quality of the harvest.

However, there currently exists no fast, accurate and robust method to measure potato p-age. In this project we will work with industry to investigate how the potato proteome changes over the course of aging with a view to identifying key protein biomarkers for p-age. Once these biomarkers are identified we will design bioassays that can be applied to tubers in an industrial context. Having a fast, accurate, robust easily-implementable assay for p-age will allow growers to a) properly understand the age of their tubers prior to planting, b) plant their tubers at the optimal time and c) adapt their management strategies to suit the age of their tubers to maximise crop yield, uniformity and quality.

This project has been co-designed with Simplot and Agronico. 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 and biochemistry
  • Practical laboratory skills in plant physiology and biochemistry

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience working with potato
  • Knowledge and experience of proteomics
  • Mass spectrometry experience

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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