Optimal sorghum varieties for Baijiu

Identification and development of sorghum varieties for quality Chinese Baijiu spirit production

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

18 July 2022

Campus

Hobart

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International

About the research project

Australian sorghum’s five-year-average export worth is $286.6 million (GRDC, 2018). The profitability of the malting sorghum market is based on yield and quality. ‘Adequate’ to ‘high’ yields ensures sorghum cropping sustainability by reducing growers risks if the Sorghum is sold as feed and maximizes profits if sold as malting sorghum. However, without suitable malt quality characteristics growers and the beyond-farm-gate value chain can’t reliably achieve the malting sorghum premium.

Baijiu is a liquor produced from Sorghum in China, Korea and Japan (Hong et al., 2020). While high-quality Australian sorghum could potentially be exported to such countries for Bailiu fermentation the Australian brewing and distilling industry, though dynamic, agile and constantly innovating to reduce costs and improve product quality and diversity, currently underutilises Sorghum. However, Baijiu is an emerging spirit in the Australian beverages industry, being produced currently by two Australian businesses, including Sanyou in Launceston (ABCNT, 2021). Baijiu is the most popular spirit in the world. The potential export markets for Baijiu and sorghum-for-Baijiu are enormous.

This study, will collaborate with Charles Sturt University’s Functional Grains Centre, to:

  • Identify optimal sorghum varieties for high quality Baijiu production
  • Define optimal Qu (‘Choo’; yeasts, fungi mashed grains – the inoculum for the process) production parameters (temperature, humidity and time)
  • Understand, and develop reliable prediction methods, for the sorghum saccharification process and Baijiu distillation quality and yield to:
    • deliver sorghum that performs predictably and consistently with high yield,
    • meet expectations of our international/domestic Bailiu processors,
    • promote and technically support the ‘gluten free’ and saccharification quality advantages of Australian sorghum varieties to
      Australian grain breeding companies (e.g., InterGrain).
  • Define quality parameters, using genomics methods, to produce malting sorghum varieties that will surpass the quality of our competitor's varieties
  • Enhance Australian research capacity to support Grain Growers and GRDC sorghum quality priorities

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Tom Ross

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.

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 desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • The applicant should ideally have demonstrable training and expertise in grain biochemistry and microbiology/fermentation of grains for beverages

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, Prof Tom Ross 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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