Applications for this PhD have now closed.
Location Western Sydney University, Graduate Research School
Discipline
App. deadline 27/01/2017
Funding
  • Scholarship available
Project ID 2016-059
Eligibility Open to international applicants

Physiological & Systems Evaluation of Yield Potential for Salt Tolerant Transgenic Rice

Department of Industry, Innovation & Science PhD Scholarship 

The School of Science and Health at the Western Sydney University, Australia is seeking a PhD candidate to work on a research project funded by the Australia-India Strategic Research Funds (AISRF), Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. The PhD candidate will work in an exciting new collaborative project: "Developing Salt Tolerant Rice for Food Security in India and Australia" co-funded by the Australian and Indian governments.

The world's population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, which require an average annual increase in grain production of 44 million tonnes per year for the next 35 years. The acuteness of this problem is further exacerbated by the challenges imposed by changes to the global climate including soil salinization. Rice is the second most produced cereal in the world and the most important staple food in Asia. India was the second largest producer after China contributing to more than 20% of global rice production. Unfortunately, rice is highly sensitive to salinity and generally cannot grow in soils with EC levels above 5 dS/m. Yet, many of the major rice producing regions are increasingly subjected to sea water inundation caused by storm surges and sea level rise. Thus, breeding rice for salinity tolerance remains one of the key priorities among cereal breeders. There is therefore an urgent need to target previously unexplored traits and mechanisms. In this innovative project we aim to reveal novel mechanisms that confer salt tolerance in a wild rice species Oryza coarctata that can be incorporated into traditional (Oryza sativa) rice varieties to boost their salinity stress tolerance. This will be achieved by 1.) Quantifying the relative contribution and providing a comprehensive assessment of key physiological traits contributing to salinity stress tolerance in Oryza coarctata, both at the cellular and whole-plant levels and 2.) Evaluating transgenic plant performance under saline conditions in glasshouse and field experiments.

The student will be supervised by Dr Zhonghua Chen (Western Sydney U) and Professor Holger Meinke at University of Tasmania. The student is also expected to work in collaboration with other colleagues at Western Sydney, UTAS, and CSIRO. The candidate will be based at Western Sydney U's Hawkesbury Campus, but will be required travel to the field sites in NSW and QLD.

What does the scholarship provide?

• A tax-free stipend of $26,581 per annum for 3 years and funded place in the doctoral degree
• Funding is available for project costs and conference attendance

Criteria
The successful applicant should:
• have a strong background in plant physiology and soil science, an enthusiastic attitude and self-motivation
• demonstrate excellent academic performance related to the research proposed
• hold qualifications and/or experience equal to a Masters by Research or Bachelor Honours degree
• preferably have a background that includes the fields of agriculture and plant science, experience or knowledge in agricultural system analysis, statistical and mathematical modelling would be an advantage

Need more information?
• Potential applicants should contact Dr Zhonghua Chen to discuss their eligibility and research interests: z.chen@westernsydney.edu.au or +61 2 4570 1934

How to apply
• Submit a scholarship application form, and all other relevant supporting documentation to the Graduate Research School
• Please ensure that all relevant documents are certified according to Western Sydney University requirements. Incomplete applications will not be considered
• The application form can be downloaded from the Graduate Research School's Project Scholarships Page
• If you have any queries regarding the application process or enrolment, please contact the Graduate Research School



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Further Information / Application Enquiries

Ms Tracy Mills
+61 2 4736 0966