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In 2004 the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics is offering 10 PhD Scholarships.

Each scholarship provides a tax free stipend of $25 000

About the Centre…

The Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics is the largest crop genomics centre in the Southern Hemisphere. Headquarters are located at the Waite Precinct, Urrbrae, South Australia.  It also has nodes at the University of Melbourne, DPI at Latrobe University and the University of Queensland.

What we do

The Australian Centre for Plant Function Genomics aims to develop superior varieties of wheat and barley that have increased tolerance to abiotic stresses such as temperature, water logging, drought, salinity and mineral deficiencies or toxicities. These stresses are major cause of yield loss throughout the world.


Research at the Centre will use functional genomics and gene technologies to  investigate the control of genes in normal growth and in response to abiotic stress. The main aims of the Centre include:

·                 To identify the genetic mechanisms that control tolerance to specific stresses

·                 To investigate the regulatory networks that control plant growth under abiotic stress

·                 To identify ways to manipulate these networks.

Benefits of the technology

The benefits of genomics can be applied through conventional plant breeding as breeders will be able to gain an increased understanding of the nature and behaviour of the genome of various plants. Another possible outcome will be the development of gene constructs which could be used to genetically modify crop plants. This will improve their adaptation to hostile conditions which they are sometimes exposed to.

Genomics has the potential to deliver economic benefits for rural, food and related manufacturing industries. For example, in 2001, there was approximately 17 million hectares of land sown with cereal crops in Australia, valued between $6-8 billion annually. However, with the use of functional genomics, productivity levels could potentially increase by 10-20%.

The technology also has the potential to benefit the cereal growing community and the environment. For example, cereal crops could be improved so they have increased yield, require less fertiliser, have improved water use efficiency and tolerance to salinity.  This will enable more sustainable farming.


$55 million has been invested into the Centre by the:

·                 Australian Research Council (ARC)

·                 The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)

·                 The South Australian Government

·                 The University of Adelaide

·                 The University of Melbourne

·                 Department of Primary Industries (Vic)

·                 The University of Queensland.

PhD Projects for 2004

The Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics is aiming to attract high quality students to undertake projects in plant biotechnology and genomics. Specifically, projects will provide training in:  bioinformatics, genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, molecular genetics and protein structural analysis.

While studying with the Centre, we will ensure you are trained to the highest possible standards and that you have access to the latest technological developments and support programs.

Scholars will receive

·                 A tax free stipend of $25,000 per annum

·                 Excellent support from both your supervisor and peers 

·                 Access to state of the art equipment

·                 Opportunities to work in key international laboratories in Europe, North America and Asia

·                 Opportunities to attend International conferences

·                 Opportunities to conduct industry relevant work experience

The Centre will also provide the opportunity to do relevant professional development workshops and training programs. Training programs /workshops include:

Following the period of study, the Centre will also help you find suitable employment.


Prerequisites include either First Class or 2A Honours in either a Science Degree (B.Sc.) or an Agricultural Science Degree (B. Ag. Sc.). However, a strong performance in other related courses may be considered for example:

2004 Projects

PhD work with the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics is run with the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture and Wine. It is located at the prestigious Waite Campus. With the facilities already available at the Waite Campus and the facilities provided by the new Centre, you as a student will have access to the best resources available in the Plant Biotechnology area.

Here are some examples of the exciting projects on offer:

·                 Cloning of salt tolerance proteins and their interaction partners

·                 A transcript analysis approach to identify novel genes involved in pathways of abiotic stress tolerance in wheat

·                 Discovery of functional relationships between genes using microarray data

·                 Syntenic map-based cloning of genes controlling tolerance to abiotic stresses

·                 Map-based cloning of aluminium tolerance genes in barley

·                 Effects of cell-specific random gene activation in roots on solute accumulation in shoots

·                 Identification and characterization of the transcriptional factor(s) involved into the seed specific activation of the AtEND1-like gene(s)

·                 Characterization of the TRN-SR dependent pathway of mRNA export in wheat grain

·                 Identification and characterization of transcriptional factors expressed in wheat grain at the early stage of grain development

Projects available at The University of Melbourne include:

·                 Proteomic analysis of boron tolerant/intolerant barley cultivars

·                Metabolomic analysis of boron tolerant/intolerant barley cultivars

Further research opportunities are available at the University of Queensland and at DPI at Latrobe University. Please enquiry for more details.

For further information regarding applications or projects contact:

Belinda Barr

Communications and Education Manager

Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics

Ph: (08) 8303 6725


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