Novel traits in future forests

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

31 October 2022

Campus

Hobart

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International

Scholarship

$28,854pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

Ensuring a productive future forest estate under changing climates is essential and vulnerability assessments indicate that climate change may have large consequences for sections of the future industry. There are opportunities to complement tools in the breeding of material to minimise threats.

This project aims to understand the genomic architecture of quantitative traits in Eucalyptus nitens. The project will focus on traits affecting resistance to drought, heat, diseases, and pests - stressors that are expected to increasingly impact forests under climate change.  Novel approaches to large-scale phenotyping will be explored, including stress indicators and other traits derived from hand-held and drone-based sensors, through collaboration with concurrent projects. We will use two genome-wide association approaches.  The first will be the common strategy where trees are both phenotyped and genotyped (using the high coverage single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array that industry is using).  The second approach will exploit pre-existing genotype data from the selections in our partners’ breeding programs and phenotype their descendants (open-pollinated seed collected from each selection) an approach successfully used in Eucalyptus nitens.  This will require planting multiple field trials with this genetic material, including potentially marginal sites.

This research will link closely with the Tree Breeding Australia (TBA) national Eucalyptus nitens breeding program and allow breeders to rank trees for novel and previously unmeasured traits.  It will be able to provide molecular markers for these traits and also information on the correlated effects of these markers on other selection traits (e. g. growth, basic density and pulp yield).  It will also provide phenotypic information that can feed into the genetic evaluation system used for this species.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Rebecca Jones

Funding

The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend co-funded with Forest and Wood Products Australia Limited of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • $10,000 per annum support for project costs for 3 years
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)
  • international applicants may receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years

The scholarship supporting this project is funded by the University of Tasmania, Forest and Wood Products Australia Limited and the Australian Government through the Research Training Program.

Eligibility

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

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:

  • the candidate will ideally have strong skills in bioinformatics

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, Dr Rebecca Jones 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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