PhD scholarships: Genetics of Fruit Sensory Preferences

Summary

Enrolment status New students
Student type Domestic students
Level of study Higher Degree by Research
Study area Agriculture and Environment
HDR funding type Living stipend scholarship, Tuition Scholarship
Scholarship value $28,854 per annum (2022 rate), indexed annually
Scholarship duration 3.5 years with the possibility of 1 extension in line with UQ and RTP Scholarship Policy
Number awarded 4
Opening date 8 November 2021
Closing date 20 December 2021

Description

The development of new horticulture varieties is a balancing act, delivering selections with high consumer appeal as well as improved characteristics for producers. Funded by Hort Innovations Hort Frontiers Strategic Partnership Initiative, this project  seeks to understand current consumer preferences, purchasing and consumption patterns and the part that fruit sensory qualities (taste, smell, look and feel) contribute to these behaviours. The underlying biological contributors to these sensory qualities will be profiled and the genetics of each explored and developed into a suite of tools that can implemented into active mango, papaya, pineapple and strawberry breeding programs. This will allow the co-development of consumer and producer related traits, adding efficiency to these programs and delivering superior varieties to market sooner. Along the way, new opportunities for premium or niche varieties may add substantial value to industries currently worth almost $670 million annually.

Four PhD scholarships are available as part of the project Genetics of Fruit Sensory Preferences (AS19003) and in collaboration with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Griffith University. The project also boasts strong links to the relevant fruit breeding programs. Two PhD projects will focus on linking molecular markers with consumer-preferred flavour components of strawberry, and pineapple and passion fruit. One PhD project will study the flavour chemistry of tropical fruits (such as papaya and passion fruit), and another PhD will focus on consumer insights and market opportunities for tropical fruits in Australia. As part of the project, Griffith University are offering two additional PhD projects in this area on papaya and mango fruits (see Griffith University website for more details on those scholarships).

Consumer insights, drivers, and barriers for Australian tropical fruits in domestic markets

Project Objective

To gain a detailed understanding of consumer purchase and consumption behaviour, and drivers and barriers to consumption of tropical fruits in Australia.  To develop an analytical tool for measuring a baseline and future changes to consumer behaviour for the tropical fruit category.

Project Approach, Experimental Techniques, Outputs

A detailed literature review will be conducted at the outset of the project exploring the following general topic areas to identify knowledge gaps and develop a project proposal:

  • Analysis of the tropical fruit product category in Australia, value of category, past/current marketing strategies used
  • Historical/Current knowledge of consumers and consumption of tropical fruits in Australia
  • Drivers and barriers to tropical fruit consumption in Australia
  • Review of qualitative tools for measuring consumer trends in successive years.

Experimental techniques / methodologies utilised:

  • Conducting focus groups
  • Consumer sensory evaluation
  • Preference mapping
  • Developing online qualitative and quantitative consumer instruments
  • Analysis of complex multivariate data sets

Outputs may include:

  • Consumer instrument for analysing consumer behaviour towards the tropical fruit category
  • Knowledge of baseline demographics, behaviour, attitudes of tropical fruit consumers
  • Understanding of consumer drivers and barriers toward tropical fruit consumption.
  • Development of market insight leading to marketing strategies for the sector
  • Knowledge to improve consumer experiences in the marketplace
  • Papers in scientific journals (e.g. Food Quality and Preference)
  • Conference attendance/proceedings (e.g. SenseAsia, Pangborn, EuroSense).

Selection Criteria

A working knowledge of theories and models in consumer sciences, consumer evaluation, market analysis and horticultural crops would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field/s of consumer science, psychology, agribusiness or similar science-related discipline and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of conducting consumer focus group discussions, development of qualitative and quantitative instruments and related data analysis is highly desirable.

Principal Advisor

Associate Professor Heather Smyth

Improving selection efficiency for pineapple sensory traits, particularly those influenced by volatiles

Project Objective

To develop knowledge and tools enabling greater efficiency of measuring and selecting priority sensory traits in the pineapple breeding program, with a particular focus on influence of sensory traits linked to volatiles, using the DAF breeding programs as a case studies.

Project Approach, Experimental Techniques, Outputs

Approach

A literature review will be undertaken to identify opportunities and gaps in improving the efficiency of measuring and selecting elite germplasm for sensory traits in pineapple and inform the design of subsequent experiments that will be used to fill these gaps.

Literature review

Identify current knowledge and gaps in

  1. Breeding methods and important sensory traits for selection in pineapple
  2. Relationship between volatile compounds and important sensory traits in pineapple
  3. Methods for direct and instrumental assessment of sensory traits in pineapple, with particular focus on volatile compounds
  4. Genetics of sensory traits in pineapple
  5. Use of molecular markers for selection of sensory traits in pineapple

Experimental techniques

  1. Develop and evaluate instrumental methods for assessing priority sensory traits in pineapple, particularly those linked with volatile compounds
  2. Determine genetic variability of sensory traits linked with volatile compounds analysed in section (i)
  3. Develop DNA prediction models for sensory traits

Outputs

  1. Efficient direct or indirect methods for assessment of important sensory traits in pineapple breeding program
  2. Improved knowledge on the genetic architecture of important sensory traits in pineapple
  3. Prediction of genetic values in DAF pineapple breeding program germplasm for important sensory traits
  4. DNA based models for predicting genetic value for important sensory traits in pineapple
  5. New scientist with expertise in incorporating sensory traits in horticultural breeding programs

Selection Criteria

A working knowledge of horticulture, genetics and biochemistry would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field/s of plant science, genetics, biochemistry and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of statistics, food science and sensory analysis is highly desirable.

Principal Advisor

Associate Professor Craig Hardner

Improving selection efficiency for strawberry sensory traits, particularly those influenced by volatiles

Project Objective

To develop knowledge and tools enabling greater efficiency of measuring and selecting priority sensory traits in the strawberry breeding program, with a particular focus on influence of sensory traits linked to volatiles, using the DAF breeding programs as a case studies.

Project Approach, Experimental Techniques, Outputs

Approach

A literature review will be undertaken to identify opportunities and gaps in improving the efficiency of measuring and selecting elite germplasm for sensory traits in strawberry and inform the design of subsequent experiments that will be used to fill these gaps.

Literature review

Identify current knowledge and gaps in

  1. Breeding methods and important sensory traits for selection in strawberry
  2. Relationship between volatile compounds and important sensory traits in strawberry
  3. Methods for direct and instrumental assessment of sensory traits in strawberry, with particular focus on volatile compounds
  4. Genetics of sensory traits in strawberry
  5. Use of molecular markers for selection of sensory traits in strawberry

Experimental techniques

  1. Develop and evaluate instrumental methods for assessing priority sensory traits in strawberry, particularly those linked with volatile compounds
  2. Determine genetic variability of sensory traits linked with volatile compounds analysed in section (i)
  3. Develop DNA prediction models for sensory traits

Outputs

  1. Efficient direct or indirect methods for assessment of important sensory traits in strawberry breeding program
  2. Improved knowledge on the genetic architecture of important sensory traits in strawberry
  3. Prediction of genetic values in DAF strawberry breeding program germplasm for important sensory traits
  4. DNA based models for predicting genetic value for important sensory traits in strawberry
  5. New scientist with expertise in incorporating sensory traits in horticultural breeding programs

Selection Criteria

A working knowledge of horticulture, genetics and biochemistry would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field/s of plant science, genetics, biochemistry and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of statistics, food science and sensory analysis is highly desirable.

Principal Advisor

Associate Professor Craig Hardner

Research environment

The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) is a research institute of the University of Queensland (UQ) which was established in 2010 and comprises of four research centres – the Centre for Crop Science, the Centre for Horticultural Science, the Centre for Animal Science and the Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences. 

QAAFI’s team of 450 researchers, postgraduate students and support staff undertake high impact science for agriculture and food industries. The institute’s strong partnership with the Queensland Government provides our researchers with a direct link to the agriculture industry in Queensland, and world class field research facilities throughout Queensland. Agriculture is one of UQ’s highest ranked research fields nationally and internationally and QAAFI is a global leader in agricultural research in subtropical and tropical production systems. 

QAAFI scientists are driven to make a difference to the agriculture and food industries and have over 150 collaborators worldwide.

Details of the research interests of the Institute may be accessed on the Institute’s website.

Eligibility

To be eligible, you must meet the entry requirements for a higher degree by research.

Before you get started

If this scholarship has rules, download and read them.

How to apply

To apply for admission and scholarship, follow the link on the upper right of this page. There is no separate application for scholarship because you will have the opportunity to request scholarship consideration on the application for admission.

Before submitting an application you should:

When you apply, please ensure that under the scholarships and collaborative study section you:

  1. Select ‘My higher degree is not collaborative’
  2. Select 'I am applying for, or have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship'.
  3. Select ‘Other’, then ‘Research Project Scholarship’ and type in ‘GENETICS-SMYTHin the 'Name of scholarship' field.

See an example of what you have to do

Learn more about applying for a higher degree by research at UQ

Contact

Associate Professor Heather Smyth
0468 732 394

Terms and conditions

Read the policy on UQ Research Scholarships.

A domestic part-time student with carer’s responsibilities, a medical condition or a disability, which prevents them from studying full time may be eligible for scholarship consideration, on a case by case basis.