“The Department of Plant Sciences, Faculty of Biosciences, at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has a vacant three-year PhD–position related to genetics of sugar kelp.

There is an enormous potential for value creation based on kelp production along the Norwegian coast and a strong interest in developing cultivars with improved traits. Globally, cultivation of kelp and other macroalgae is expected to become an increasingly important source of human food, and the production is recognized as being environmentally sustainable. Kelp has a large range of potential uses: human food, animal feed (either directly, as a feed ingredient, or as a resource for yeast production), biochemicals (such as alginate), pharmaceuticals, agricultural fertilizer, and bioenergy. A potential problem with extensive use of kelp for food and feed, however, is the high content of certain minerals, e.g. iodine (I) and arsenic (As). The role and success of selective breeding in both agri- and aquaculture shows that selective breeding is likely to be of high importance for future cultivation and utilization of kelp worldwide, boosting economic and environmental sustainability of marine aquaculture, and creating markets for the aquaculture, processing and breeding industries.

The PhD position is associated with a project funded from the Norwegian Research Council – Breed4Kelp2Feed, which is a collaboration between BIOVIT, Sintef Ocean AS and Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO).

The main goal of Breed4Kelp2Feed is to establish knowledge needed to start selective breeding of sugar kelp, and the two main activities are:

1) manipulation of the life cycle and ploidy levels with the aim of generating sterile production plants that cannot hybridize with natural populations (in order to avoid problems with “genetic pollution” of wild populations), and

2) a short-term selection experiment based on mixed hybridization and phenotypic selection of large individuals (to demonstrate the potential of selective breeding also in kelp, and to obtain genetic information).

The PhD position is linked to the ongoing selection experiment, which involves phenotyping and genotyping (genotyping by sequencing (GBS)) of a large number of individuals with the aim to estimate genetic variance, heritability, genetic correlations between traits, genetic response to selection, and genotype by environment interactions.

The PhD student is expected to go to ILVO in Belgium for a short stay to get training in bioinformatic analysis.”

Further information is available here