PhD scholarship: Exploring the genome landscape of heterosis in sorghum


Enrolment status New students
Student type Domestic students
Level of study Higher Degree by Research
Study area Agriculture and Environment
HDR funding type Living stipend scholarship
Scholarship value $28,092 per annum (2020 rate), indexed annually
Scholarship duration Three years with the possibility of two 6-month extensions in approved circumstances
Opening date 17 June 2020
Closing date 31 October 2020


Overall Research Project

The Hy-Gain project (Hy-Gain), funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a multi-party international research project comprising seven world leading teams aiming to develop a novel technology to increase seed yield and productivity in sorghum and cowpea crops for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. This exciting 5-year project, is led by QAAFI with the project director, Prof Anna Koltunow, based in the Centre for Crop Science. Hy-Gain aims to ensure the technology is compatible with plant breeding to support the future, rapid delivery of new high yielding sorghum and cowpea hybrids and improved varieties. Hy-Gain involves research work at multiple sites in Queensland (Hermitage at Warwick; Gatton and St. Lucia) and collaboration with five international research organisations and a multinational seed company. The project has some fundamental discovery work, however its key aim is building and testing the utility of the technology in plants under controlled glasshouse and field conditions with evaluations involving input from African sorghum and cowpea breeders. The research objectives span molecular work in the laboratory to field work involving genetic, genomic and transgenic technologies and testing reproductive productivity of plants in glasshouse and in the field. Communication and collaboration between the parties to efficiently achieve goals, protection of discoveries, dissemination of data to the public via scientific publications and web-based media are important outcomes of the project.

PhD Scholarship Project

Heterosis, or hybrid vigour, is agronomically very important however the mechanisms of heterosis are poorly understood. Quantitative heterotic traits in sorghum, including yield related traits, are under complex genetic control and have also been shown to interact with chromatin structure, differential gene expression and presence/absence variation.  This project will characterise the chromatin structure in sorghum and investigate the association between chromatin type and structural variation, using data identified in the sorghum pan-genome. The project will further identify genomic regions, and candidate genes, associated with heterosis using a large diversity panel, to investigate which portions of the genome contribute to quantitative heterotic traits in sorghum. The candidate genes will be further investigated for differential gene expression between hybrids and parent samples from the diversity panel. Several features of sorghum, including its high genetic diversity, relatively small diploid genome, availability of extensive genomic resources, including a pan-genome, make it an excellent experimental system to explore the genome landscape of heterosis and to explore the impact of structural variation and chromatin type on heterosis. This PhD is based at Warwick, Qld.


To be eligible, you must meet the entry requirements for a higher degree by research.

Applications are closed.

Before you get started

If this scholarship has rules, download and read them.

How to apply

To apply for admission and scholarship, follow the link on the upper right of this page. There is no separate application for scholarship because you will have the opportunity to request scholarship consideration on the application for admission.

Before submitting an application you should:

When you apply, please ensure that under the scholarships and collaborative study section you:

  1. Select ‘My higher degree is not collaborative’
  2. Select 'I am applying for, or have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship'.
  3. Select ‘Other’, then ‘Research Project Scholarship’ and type in ‘HETEROSISin the 'Name of scholarship' field.

See an example of what you have to do

Learn more about applying for a higher degree by research at UQ

Selection criteria

Basic expertise and experience in genetics, plant breeding and genomics would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

Strong academic performance demonstrated through publication output in peer reviewed international journals is highly desirable.

Applications are closed.


Dr Emma Mace
+61 7 4542 6729
Applications are closed.

Terms and conditions

Read the policy on UQ Research Scholarships.

A domestic part-time student with carer’s responsibilities, a medical condition or a disability, which prevents them from studying full time may be eligible for scholarship consideration, on a case by case basis.

Applications are closed.