Blueberry rust epidemiology

Management of blueberry rust post-incursion: Understanding disease epidemiology and host factors

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Blueberry rust, caused by the fungal pathogen Thekopsora minima, has recently been declared endemic in Tasmania, after a prolonged period of biosecurity containment. The blueberry industry is growing rapidly in Tasmania and is represented by a range of growers, including large corporate businesses and smaller independent growers. The rust impacts plant productivity, quality and trade options.

Little is known about how the pathogen survives in cooler Australian climates and the best management options, including the overwintering lifecycle phase. This project will explore the disease epidemiology of the pathogen and how blueberry cultivar and climate influences infection and survival. The candidate will develop traditional and molecular plant pathology skills, including analysis of host resistance and physiology.

The project will address fundamental plant pathology questions and provide industry-focused outcomes. It will involve interaction with collaborating researchers in NSW and the UK.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Kara Barry


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 $31,500 per annum (2023 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.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • The scholarship is open to Australian and New Zealand (domestic) candidates and to International candidates
  • Research must be undertaken on a full-time basis
  • 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 undertake the project on-campus

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:

  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills, in addition to excellent communication
  • Must hold Australian driver’s license or be prepared to obtain a license
  • Ability to conduct field work independently at times

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in fungal plant pathology is desirable, in addition to experience with molecular biology techniques and strong statistical analysis skills

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, A/Prof Kara Barry to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. 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 by the advertised outcome date.

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