A gateway to the science of agrobiodiversity

International PhD Programme in Agrobiodiversity


This unique International PhD Programme with yearly calls for scholarships has reached its 14th edition and has become a reference point not only for international students but also for the research community.

This PhD a valuable opportunity to acquire advanced scientific skills and facilitate job employment for young generations of scientists and professionals interested in a topical subject like Agrobiodiversity due to:

  • The attractiveness of the theme
  • The high level scientific profile of the PhD Faculty
  • The links to prestigious international scientific organizations
  • The links to ongoing national and international research projects, funded by e.g. the EU and CGIAR institutes
  • The location in one of the most prestigious Universities in Europe.

The PhD is organized by the Institute of Life Sciences at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, SSSA) of Pisa, upon funding of the Italian Ministry of Higher Education, University and Research (MiUR).

SSSA is ranked #1 among Italian universities in Agricultural Sciences and Biological Sciences. Worldwide, SSSA is ranked #6 among small universities and #10 among young universities (< 50 years) (Times Higher Education ranking:

The main scope of this three-year PhD Programme is to enhance human resource capacities in the use and management of genetic variation in agricultural and natural systems, to improve the sustainability of agricultural systems and the conservation of genetic resources for the well-being of present and future generations.

Candidates have the possibility to choose between two curricula:

Curriculum A – Plant genetic resources
Curriculum B – Functional biodiversity in agroecosystems

Here are some examples of research areas tackled by the PhD Programme:

  • Genetic variation in single genes and entire genomes of agricultural and forestry plants and their wild relatives
  • Mechanisms that control the variability in genes and/or groups of genes, as those involved in resistance to pathogens and/or pests and tolerance to environmental factors
  • Role of functional biodiversity in maintaining genetic diversity, including evolution and co-evolution of pests/pathogens and host plants
  • Role of functional diversity, including interactions between pests/ pathogens/weeds and domesticated/volunteer/wild plants, in agroecosystem health
  • Plant and crop physiology, including plant stress physiology and post-harvest physiology
  • Application of agrobiodiversity solutions at genetic, species and habitat level to improve crop performance, crop protection, sustainable crop/agroforestry management and multifunctional land use.

The PhD includes courses and research activities. Students must obtain 15 credits (CFU) from courses and other didactic activities (e.g. attendance to seminars, conferences, summer schools, workshops, etc.) to be admitted to their PhD thesis defence. A vast array of courses is offered, given by PhD Faculty members or internationally recognized experts. Some of these courses are mandatory whilst others are chosen by the students themselves. Courses are highly interactive and include theatre lectures as well as practical activities in the lab or in the field. This allows students to have hands-on tuition in a real agrobiodiversity context from the very beginning.

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For further information please contact or call +39 050 883528