PhD Scholarship in Exploring the Genome Landscape of Heterosis in Sorghum
University of Queensland Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation

PhD Scholarship in Exploring the Genome Landscape of Heterosis in Sorghum

Job No:510592
Area:Qld Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
Salary (FTE):RTP Scholarship NON-BANDED ($28,092.00 - $28,092.00)
Work type:Full Time - Scholarship
Location: St Lucia

Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) 

QAAFI is a research institute of the University of Queensland (UQ) which was established in 2010 and comprises of four research centres – the Centre for Crop Science, the Centre for Horticultural Science, the Centre for Animal Science and the Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences.

QAAFI's team of 450 researchers, postgraduate students and support staff undertake high impact science for agriculture and food industries. The institute’s strong partnership with the Queensland Government provides our researchers with a direct link to the agriculture industry in Queensland, and world class field research facilities throughout Queensland. Agriculture is one of UQ’s highest ranked research fields nationally and internationally and QAAFI is a global leader in agricultural research in subtropical and tropical production systems.

About This Opportunity

Project Description

The Hy-Gain project (Hy-Gain), funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a multi-party international research project comprising seven world leading teams aiming to develop a novel technology to increase seed yield and productivity in sorghum and cowpea crops for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. This exciting 5-year project, is led by QAAFI with the project director, Prof Anna Koltunow, based in the Centre for Crop Science. Hy-Gain aims to ensure the technology is compatible with plant breeding to support the future, rapid delivery of new high yielding sorghum and cowpea hybrids and improved varieties. Hy-Gain involves research work at multiple sites in Queensland (Hermitage at Warwick; Gatton and St. Lucia) and collaboration with five international research organisations and a multinational seed company. The project has some fundamental discovery work, however its key aim is building and testing the utility of the technology in plants under controlled glasshouse and field conditions with evaluations involving input from African sorghum and cowpea breeders. The research objectives span molecular work in the laboratory to field work involving genetic, genomic and transgenic technologies and testing reproductive productivity of plants in glasshouse and in the field. Communication and collaboration between the parties to efficiently achieve goals, protection of discoveries, dissemination of data to the public via scientific publications and web-based media are important outcomes of the project.

Project Activities

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.

Our Ideal Candidate

To be eligible, you must meet the entry requirements for a higher degree by research.

What We Can Offer

This Scholarship provides a stipend of $28,092 per annum, indexed annually for 3 years with the possibility of extension.

For further information on scholarships please refer to:


To discuss this role please contact the Hygain Project Team

Want to Apply?

To apply for this scholarship please visit

Advertised: 18 Jun 2020

Applications close: 30 Oct 2020 (11:00 PM) E. Australia Standard Time

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Bioloxy


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