Location University of New South Wales, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences
App. deadline Applications accepted year round/until filled
  • Self funding students only
  • Please enquire for further details
  • Scholarship available
Eligibility Australian residents only

Transgenerational non-genetic (epigenetic) effects in zebrafish at I-DEEL, E&ERC, UNSW, Australia

It is increasingly clear that non-genetic (epigenetic) parental effects influence not only the phenotypes of offspring but also those of grand-offspring. However, we still know very little about the extent of this effect in the subsequent generations, and its specific mechanisms. The project will use a zebrafish model to close this gap in our understanding of transgenerational non-genetic effects by taking an integrative evolutionary framework.


Our group (http://www.i-deel.org/) is seeking a PhD candidate to take on this project. The candidate will conduct experiments using zebrafish to investigate how parental conditions can transgenerationally influence subsequent generations; we especially focus on behavioural traits. We have access to a state-of-the-art zebrafish facility and molecular facility in collaboration with Dr. Dan Hasselson at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research (www.garvan.org.au). There, we have developed a high-throughput behavioural phenotyping system. High quality behavioural data will be combined with cutting edge molecular data (individual-based transcriptome and methylation data) to explore the impact of parental environments on subsequent offspring behaviour. We also employ modern genome editing techniques (CRISPR, TALEN) to manipulate parental genomes and thus the potential molecular mechanisms under investigation.


This project is challenging and uniquely interdisciplinary, by mixing molecular genetics, evolutionary biology, behavioural ecology and statistical modeling. Therefore, the candidate will learn not only molecular techniques but also advanced statistical and computational methods. There are also opportunities for the candidate to develop their own PhD project with us. Note that our lab conducts many meta-analyses, comparative analyses and computer simulation work so these kind of projects can be blended into the PhD thesis.


Please read our webpage to see the wide range of research we conduct (www.i-deel.org). Here are some relevant papers.


O’Dea, R. E., Noble, D. W. A., Johnson, S.L., Hesselson, D. & Nakagawa, S. (2016) The role of non-genetic inheritance in evolutionary rescue: epigenetic buffering, heritable bet hedging, and epigenetic traps. Environmental Epigenetics. 2:1-12


Chatterjee, A., Ozaki, Y., Stockwell, P. A. Horsfiled, J. A., Morison I. M. & Nakagawa, S. (2013) Mapping the zebrafish brain methylome using reduced representation bisulfite sequencing. Epigenetics. 8: 979-989





(1) DISCUSS:  Email letter with CV, academic record, and details of two academic referees, to A/Prof Shinichi Nakagawa (s.nakagawa@unsw.edu.au). Your letter should explain how your results are sufficient to allow application for a SCHOLARSHIP at UNSW (see below).  At this point we cannot provide funding for a PhD from other sources, so you need to qualify for a scholarship (see below) or bring your own funding to work with us. Note that we do have funding to cover all lab work.


(2) PhD CANDIDACY APPLICATION: Requirements for PhD are BSc (Hons 1), MSc, or equivalent along with solid research and communication skills. For application timing and details, see: https://research.unsw.edu.au/how-apply-enrol-research-degree


(3a) PhD SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION - LOCAL:  Citizens or permanent residents of Australia/NZ, apply for APA and UPA at UNSW. You will need to have completed a research degree (e.g. MSc or BSc Honours research year), with results which are equivalent to 85% or higher, in order to be competitive for these scholarships.  Publications in ISI-listed international journals will also help. For application timing and details see: https://research.unsw.edu.au/postgraduate-research-scholarships


(3b) PhD SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION – INTERNATIONAL: Applicants who are NOT citizens or permanent residents of Australia/NZ, can apply for IPRS and UIPA at UNSW.  In order to be competitive for these scholarships, you will need to have completed a research degree (e.g. a full year of research in either MSc or BSc-Honours), with results which are equivalent to 95% or higher for the research component of the degree.  Note that a coursework MSc is NOT acceptable.


Please Note: Should this listing mention details of an available scholarship, it is your responsibility to confirm the specifics with the university / institute prior to applyiing. Terms and conditions are in some cases subject to change and are not always reflected immediately within listings.

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Further Information / Application Enquiries

A/Prof Shinichi Nakagawa