Temperature and growth habit in pulses

Physiological and genetic basis of temperature and plant architecture response in pulse crops

Degree type


Closing date

18 July 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

The global demand for protein derived from plants is increasing rapidly and so is the importance in understanding and harnessing the genetic variation for adaptation to climate change and future farming systems. Phenology and plant architecture play an important role in adaptation to contrasting photo-thermal and drought environments. Daylength and temperature are primary drivers of time to flowering, and temperature also influences pod set and grain filling, critical stages for yield loss. While independent regulation of plant architecture has been observed in some pulses, pleiotropic effects of daylength sensitivity have been reported, as well as a link between light quality perception, which influences branching and height, and temperature sensing in other species.
A field-based comparison of genotypes across a gradient of photo-thermal environments and water availability found that pod and seed number per unit area were the variables better associated with yield, as was the growth rate during podding-grain filling and seed number, both with genotype-dependent responses. The mechanisms and extent of genotypic diversity in the response of pulses to ambient temperature and light quality driving the balance between phenology (timing, rate and duration) and architecture is not known. An appraisal of diversity and underlying genetics is needed to define optimal combinations for breeders targeting different environments and farming systems.

The aims of this project are:

  1. Quantify the effects of temperature and light quality on key stages of the phenological development of pulses (chickpea/lentil)
  2. Quantify the genotypic response to interactions between photoperiod, temperature, and light quality
  3. Identify key combinations of phenology and architecture for breeding purposes, using a diversity panel and well-defined genetic resources, physiology and -omic technologies

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Jim Weller


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 $28,854 per annum (2022 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.


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

Applicants from the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • Crop Physiology
  • Agronomy
  • Plant Biology

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:

  • Ability to undertake regular work outdoors and in remote locations
  • Current drivers licence

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Research experience in the fields of crop physiology, agronomy, plant biology
  • Excellent written and verbal scientific communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a research team
  • A high quality academic record

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, A/Prof Jim Weller to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • 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.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application 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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