Environmental triggering and transcriptional control of bud growth and dormancy

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

The plasticity seen in plant development is key to their success as sessile lifeforms. Shoot architecture is a plastic trait, providing plants with flexibility to adapt and be successful in their local environments. Outgrowth of branches from axillary buds is a complex process involving several hormones, gene regulatory networks and signalling pathways. The intricate regulation of axillary bud outgrowth is a major determinant of shoot architecture and therefore contributes to the phenotypic plasticity of plant development and the ability to propagate in unpredictable environments. It is also a major determinant of crop productivity. Axillary bud outgrowth is regulated by a complex interplay of environmental and endogenous triggering of chromatin structure remodelling and gene expression reprogramming.

The aim of this project is to understand the chromatin and transcriptional dynamics of axillary bud outgrowth and identify the connection between environmental and molecular mechanisms underlying this response. This project will involve molecular and bioinformatic approaches to investigate how plant chromatin and transcriptional dynamics change during bud outgrowth and arrest and the influence of endogenous signals such as the phytohormone ABA and environmental stresses such as water deficit. This project will aim to discover how bud growth arrest is influenced by limited water supply and identify important chromatin and transcriptional candidate regulators in plant drought response.  This project will integrate physiological, genomic and bioinformatic approaches in plants to determine the molecular mechanisms by which activation and arrest of bud outgrowth is achieved.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Tim Brodribb


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements and the following additional eligibility criteria specific to this project:

  • Applicants must already have been awarded a first-class Honours degree or hold equivalent qualifications or relevant and substantial research experience in an appropriate sector
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills

Applicants from the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • Plant physiology
  • Transcriptomics and genomics
  • Genetics
  • Molecular biology

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Research experience in the fields of molecular biology, bioinformatics/genomics, plant physiology and/or genetics
  • Excellent written and verbal scientific communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a research team
  • High quality academic record

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Prof Tim Brodribb, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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