Antarctic krill sedaDNA

Probing ancient Antarctic krill populations

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

10 October 2022

Campus

Hobart

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International

About the research project

Antarctic krill are vastly abundant crustaceans in the Southern Ocean, where they are a critical ecosystem component linking plankton to predators and contributing to biogeochemical cycles. Climate change, and in particular, winter sea-ice habitat reduction and ocean acidification, as well as an increasing krill fishery, could lead to a population decline of this keystone species. To assess the potential impacts on krill population sustainability and resilience, studies investigating past records of environmentally driven krill population dynamics are crucial. To date, such paleo-studies targeting krill have been impossible as krill leave no fossil record for microscopic investigation, however, with recent technological advances in sedimentary ancient DNA research (sedaDNA), such studies can now be realised. In fact, the application of sedaDNA analyses to reconstruct Antarctic marine ecosystems has already been shown, including the possibility to extract ancient DNA from crustaceans. This research will build on these already existing sedaDNA techniques and target Antarctic krill specifically. The latter will be achieved by applying an RNA based hybridisation-capture technique, a method that has been commonly used in ancient DNA research to capture very degraded and fragmented sequences. The capture approach will target krill for the first time, to investigate their dynamics over thousands of years. This research will fill an important gap in our understanding of how Antarctic krill responded to past environmental change - knowledge that will improve predictions about future adaptation to ongoing climate change.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Linda Armbrecht

Funding

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 $28,854 per annum (2022 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.

Eligibility

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

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • 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:

  • Previous experience with marine science/plankton research
  • Bioinformatics experience (e.g., scripting, use of command line)
  • A good understanding of statistics and experience in applying them
  • Communication skills (written and oral)

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Expertise with molecular lab work and lab work troubleshooting
  • Familiarity with working in sterile laboratory environments, such as in a forensic or ancient DNA facility

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 Linda Armbrecht 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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