Are you looking for a unique opportunity to work collaboratively with a team of scientists and access state-of-the-art research infrastructure? Are you eager to contribute to cutting-edge research in understanding the dynamics of aphid-vectored virus transmission in potato crops? Then this may the perfect opportunity for you!

We are thrilled to announce a unique PhD scholarship opportunity in collaboration between Teagasc (Ireland) and Wageningen University. This project aims to enhance our understanding of aphid-vectored virus transmission in potato crops in Ireland, with a specific focus on the most important virus, PVY

Virus diseases of potato remain one of the largest constraints to production from both a biotic and economic perspective.  While over 50 potato viruses are known, most are not significant and only 5 (PVX, PVS, PVA, PVY and PLRV) are covered by the European seed certification standards. However, the importance and relevance of these virus diseases has changed dramatically due to migration of new more virulent virus strains, changes in variety use, restrictions in insecticide use and types and potential for earlier aphid flights due to milder winters. 

Recently several new strains of PVY which undoubtedly remains the most important potato virus have been recorded which may be contributing to increase virus infection rates (Della-Bartola et al 2020 and Mehari et al. 2022). The reasons for increased disease pressure from PVY and PVA remain cryptic. Both viruses are non-persistently spread by aphids.

Little is known in Ireland about disease reservoirs or the main aphid vectors although Myzus persicae, typically the most efficient vector of potato viruses, is not as common as in other countries. The recent suction tower network developed in Ireland provides a unique opportunity to understand the role of aphid species in the epidemiology of virus transmission in Ireland.

This project seeks to better understand the dynamics of aphid-vectored virus transmission in potato in Ireland with a specific focus on the most important virus PVY

As a PhD candidate you will contribute to

  • Developing a greater understanding of aphid behaviour and their interactions with different potato varieties to determine their effects on virus transmission rates.
  • Developing a multi-allelic genotyping platform to couple with the existing aphid detection network to make identification of aphid species, their virus status and potential insecticide resistance markers routine each year.
  • Investigate IPM options for PVY control in potato crops including field borders, variety selection, mulching, insecticide use and mineral oil.

In this position you will design and carry out field trials and monitoring as well as glasshouse and molecular experiments, analyse and interpret results, and publish findings in peer-reviewed international journals.

There will also be opportunities for travel to attend national and international conferences. The successful candidate will join a team of scientists with a strong track record in this area, and have access to research infrastructure (molecular laboratories) and support (PhD training and professional development within the Graduate School of PE&RC)).

You will work here

The PhD Scholarship is a joint research project between the Teagasc (Ireland) and Wageningen University. The PhD candidate will be based at the Teagasc Crop Science Department in Carlow (Ireland) and will be officially registered as a PhD candidate at Wageningen University within the graduate school of Production Ecology & Resource Conservation which offers opportunities for courses, supporting scientific as well as personal and professional development.

Your qualities

We are looking for an enthusiastic team player with all or a subset of the following skills:

  • A solid academic record (MSc) in biology, virology, entomology, or a related discipline
  • further research experience in an appropriate biological discipline is preferable.
  • Experience in insect molecular biology and bioinformatics would be desirable, but full training will be provided.
  • At least basic to intermediate statistical skills.
  • The successful candidate should be highly self-motivated and can expect extended periods of both laboratory and field work.
  • A full EU driving license is mandatory.
  • A very good level of oral and written English. If not from an Anglophone country you are required to show us a certification of English skills.

We offer you

You will be working under the joint supervision of Dr Denis Griffin, Dr Louise Mc Namara, Dr. Stephen Byrne (Teagasc, Oak Park Carlow), and Prof. René van der Vlugt (Lab of Virology, Wageningen University). The Scholarship is intended to start Autumn 2023 and scholarship funding is €25,000 per annum and includes University fees of up to a maximum of €2000 per annum and is tenable for 4 years.

Do you want more information?

For more information about this position, please contact René van der Vlugt, Special professor Ecological Plant Virology, Wageningen University,by phone: +31-317-480675 or by email: or Dr. Denis Griffin (Teagasc) by email: For more information about the procedure, please contact

Do you want to apply?

You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval. This vacancy will be listed up to and including July 3, 2023. 

Wageningen University & Research: The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Apply now

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