Scholarships and awards

PhD scholarship: Exploring the genome landscape of heterosis in sorghum

Heterosis, or hybrid vigour, is agronomically very important however the mechanisms of heterosis are poorly understood. Quantitative heterotic traits in sorghum, including yield related traits, are under complex genetic control and have also been shown to interact with chromatin structure, differential gene expression and presence/absence variation.  This project will characterise the chromatin structure in sorghum and investigate the association between chromatin type and structural variation, using data identified in the sorghum pan-genome. The project will further identify genomic regions, and candidate genes, associated with heterosis using a large diversity panel, to investigate which portions of the genome contribute to quantitative heterotic traits in sorghum. The candidate genes will be further investigated for differential gene expression between hybrids and parent samples from the diversity panel. Several features of sorghum, including its high genetic diversity, relatively small diploid genome, availability of extensive genomic resources, including a pan-genome, make it an excellent experimental system to explore the genome landscape of heterosis and to explore the impact of structural variation and chromatin type on heterosis. This PhD is based at Warwick, Qld.

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PhD scholarship: Regulators of female reproductive development in cowpea

The formation of the female gametophyte is a regulated sequential process in plants. Meiosis, cell death and mitosis are involved in the elaboration of this important structure, the progenitor of the seed. Previous work has led to the development of a set of female cell-type specific transcriptomes via laser capture microdissection. This has identified a suite of genes for further functional analyses. This project will involve the characterization of a repertoire of genes with the opportunity to examine their functions in transgenic plants. The genes under examination would involve those that impact on pre-fertilization gametophyte development and post fertilization seed initiation. The latter is of particular interest for legume seed yield and quality. This PhD is based at St Lucia, Brisbane.

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