Understanding plant-microbe symbioses

Domestication underground-exploring nutrient acquisition and hormone signaling strategies in plants

Degree type


Closing date

1 February 2023



Citizenship requirement



$31,500pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

Plants host a wide array of microbes that range from the beneficial (symbiotic) through to the harmful (parasitic/pathogenic). Plants must both actively encourage intimate symbioses with nutrient-acquiring bacteria and fungi but also exclude and defend against those microbes that lead to plant disease.  Over 80% of plants associate with phosphorous-acquiring arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, while a limited set of plants associate with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The symbiotic pathways that enables plants to associate with these beneficial microbes is emerging in model plants but our understanding of the genes and signals in crops and the influence of domestication on these symbiosis requires further analysis. This PhD project will explore the role of plant signals, including plant hormones and peptides, and interaction with nutrient in crops and model plants to pinpoint key genes for potential crop improvement.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Eloise Foo


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend co-funded by ARC 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:

  • 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 eligible to apply:
    • Plant physiology
    • Genetics
    • Molecular biology
  • 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:

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

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 Eloise Foo 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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