Thesis topic: The effects of climate change extremes on the physiology of potato

Published on
March 31, 2021

Credits: 24-36
Supervisor: Suzanne Brouwer, Steven Driever, Paul Struik
Examiner: T.b.d.
Begin date: 2021/05/01 (flexible)
End date: 2021/11/01 (flexible)

Potato is one of the most important food crops in the world. Climate change will likely have a large impact on potato productivity, quality and production practices. It is therefore essential to better understand the effects of climate change on potato production. The effects of gradual climate change (higher average temperatures and changing annual rainfall) on potato yield and quality have been researched elaborately and can be modelled rather accurately. The effect of climate extremes (e.g. heat waves, excessive and irregular rainfall, extreme droughts), however, is still poorly understood. Therefore, a PhD project with both CSA and PPS aims to investigate the effect of climate extremes on potato. The thesis student will work at CSA, but in close collaboration with PPS.


We are looking for an enthusiastic MSc student who would like to work on this topic. From May until September there will be a climate chamber experiment with a Dutch potato cultivar. The goal of this experiment is to investigate the effects of heat extremes on the physiology of the potato plant. This will be done by use of three different heat treatments. Depending on the research interest and background of the student, the thesis can focus on topics such as:
- The effect of heat on the photosynthetic response and underlying photosynthetic mechanisms
- The effect of climate extremes on plant and tuber development
- The relation between crucial stages of crop development and the timing of climate extremes
- The effect of heat waves on quality of the potato (e.g. dry matter, secondary growth)

The thesis will involve practical work in the climate chamber, data collection and data analysis. There will also be room for your own ideas and input!

The student could start from May onwards (depending on preference of the student; e.g. more interest in data analysis then one could start later). In summary: you will be part of practical research, with a focus on climate change and potato physiology. If you are interested or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Requirements: Research Methods in Crop Science (CSA30806), CSA-30306 Advanced Crop Physiology and/or Modelling functional diversity in crop production (CSA32806)