29 October 2021
About the research project
The scald disease-causing pathogen Rhynchosporium secalis is present in all Australian barley growing regions and ranks as number two regarding its maximum potential severity of yield loss. Losses occur regularly and are valued at $43 million per year. It’s also one of the two major pathogen diseases in Tasmania. Fungicides can be applied but add to the input costs and are prone to be overcome by the fungus if applied widely, apart from potential human health risks or unexpected negative effects on natural systems. The best strategy of managing the disease is the use of resistant varieties as a result of breeding and management practices such as crop rotation. The discovery of “perfect markers” linked to the major scald resistance gene is crucial for fast breeding program in improving barley scald resistance. The Grains Research and Development Corporation has just funded a few projects to work on scald resistance. We have also set up a proper system to accelerate fine mapping.
The overall aim of this research is to generate molecular tools that allow the identification of scald infection objectively (no subjective scoring) and significantly earlier than the appearance of leaf symptoms, in particular, fast breeding programs with no need of field screening.
- Identification of new potential genes for scald resistance through genome wide association studies: we have now genotyped 700 berley germplasm and preliminary results suggested some new QTL for scald resistance, apart from the one on chromosome 3H. We have also identified some lines with very similar genetic background but different in scald resistance which can be used to create near isogenic lines.
- One of the best tolerance cultivars, Osiris, shows resistance to most of the pathogen. This project will be fine mapping and cloning of the resistance allele from this cultivar.
- The gene from Osiris will be introgressed to a best commercial variety, Planet. Further study will include the effect of the gene addition on other agronomic and yield performance. The material created from this research can also be further used in breeding programs or even commercialised with the help from a breeding company.
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:
- The candidate needs to have a master’s degree in plant research area, such as plant physiology, plant science, crop breeding related, etc.
- The student should also have capable English skills in communicating and writing
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 plant science
- Ample knowledge of genetics, gene mapping
Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:
- Academic publications as the evidence
There is a three-step application process:
- Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
- Contact the Primary Supervisor, Prof Meixue Zhou, if you have any questions about the project; and
- 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 2 x 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.