SCU Fully-funded International PhD Positionsin Passionfruit Breeding and Evaluation

  • Phd
  • $28,597 p.a., tuition fee waiver + research costs
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This PhD position will be based within the Southern Cross Plant Science research centre, at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus in eastern Australia.

Background: Southern Cross University is offering a fully funded PhD scholarship in passionfruit breeding and evaluation.  Passionfruit (Passiflora edulis) is cultivated commercially in subtropical and tropical regions of Australia to produce fresh fruit for domestic markets. The growing industry is based on scion varieties that have been clonally propagated for over a decade and are experiencing declines in fruit size and yield. The central goal of the National Passionfruit Breeding and Evaluation Program, managed by Southern Cross University, is to develop new high-yielding varieties with improved agronomic traits that meet consumer demands.

In this project, estimated breeding values based on important traits will be used to optimise the selection of parents and develop an improved system for selecting new varieties. Diverse germplasm from breeding populations, an arboretum and seed bank will be utilised for breeding, evaluation and selection of promising new genotypes with the potential to revitalise the Australian passionfruit industry.

Activities: A unique collection of passionfruit accessions will be characterised to guide the selection of parents for breeding to develop potential replacement varieties for the Australian passionfruit industry.

The work will include:

  • A critical review of existing relevant peer-reviewed scientific literature
  • Identifying important traits and phenotyping methods for trait measurement
  • Developing a breeding goal
  • Estimation of breeding values to optimise parental crosses
  • Assessing molecular genetic variation in Australian germplasm
  • Assessment of genetic variation and potential of breeding for fruit shelf life
  • Travel for fieldwork

The successful candidate will be part of a vibrant research group focusing on plant breeding and genetics.  This research opportunity will contribute to an existing Hort Innovation project and will involve industry collaboration.

Eligibility

The ideal candidate is highly motivated for scientific research in plant breeding and genetics. The successful applicant will need to meet the entry requirements to enrol in a PhD at Southern Cross University on a full-time basis, including a second-class Honours degree (or above) or a MSc degree (or equivalent) in biological or agricultural sciences. Excellent knowledge of spoken and written English as well as excellent communication and team skills are expected. A valid driver’s licence is required. The position is open to all domestic applicants and international applicants currently based in Australia. International applicants currently based overseas are welcomed to apply, however, current Australian Government border restrictions may impact their application.

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Benefits

Successful candidates will be offered a PhD stipend (for a 3-year duration at the Australian Research Training Program rate; the 2021 rate is $28,597 per year, indexed annually), plus a tuition fee-waiver and an additional stipend to cover research costs.

International candidates are eligible to apply, however, if successful the successful candidate will need to fund their own travel to Australia to commence studies, application fees for any required visa and overseas health cover insurance expenses.

Application

Applicants are asked to submit an expression of interest, which must include a CV, copies of previous research outputs and a cover letter outlining a summary of your research experience, your reasons for wanting to do a PhD and information on how your skills will be relevant to the project (email to cathy.nock@scu.edu.au). This project aims to officially start in the second quarter of 2021, but there is some flexibility with the exact starting date (upon mutual agreement). Applications will remain open until filled in 2021.

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