PhD scholarship in Bioinformatics and Epigenetics – Southern Cross University

Southern Cross Plant Science is a Special Research Centre within Southern Cross University (SCU), and carries out research underpinning the selection, cultivation and utilization of plants. SCPS infrastructure includes facilities for plant growth, analytical chemistry, high-throughput DNA sequencing, genotyping, proteomics and bioinformatics.

We are looking for highly motivated PhD student to work in the project novel bioinformatic approaches to unravel the epigenetic basis of crop plasticity. Epigenetics refers to structural adaptation of chromosomal regions to register, signal or perpetuate altered activity states. DNA methylation (cytosine, as 5mC) provides epigenetic marks superimposed on eukaryote genomes. In plants, epigenetic marks and mechanisms include DNA methylation, histone modification and small non-coding RNA (snRNA) mediated pathways that contribute to changes in chromatin structure and stability, and so regulate gene expression. Dynamic epigenetic changes in response to endogenous and external stimuli play a definitive role in the plasticity of phenotype, thus enabling organisms to adapt to variable environmental conditions. Exploiting epigenetic variation is likely to have practical utility for improving agriculture, horticulture and forestry. However, there is still much to learn about the underlying molecular basis of epigenetic plasticity, especially for plants with complex genomes where the specific roles and potential for epigenetic processes may contribute to improved adaptation to environment via improved crop agronomy and breeding.

The PhD study will develop algorithms and software tools that enable testing of hypotheses associated with the dynamic relationships between patterns of DNA methylation, nucleosome positioning and DNA physiochemical properties. The study will make use of data generated from SCU genomic facilities and associated projects. SCPS has dedicated high-performance computing (HPC) facilities and bioinformatics infrastructure available within SCU, as well as national HPC facilities where SCU has privileged access.

The candidate must hold, a Master by Research Degree (or must be finishing a Master degree) or equivalent diploma, and must have an exceptional academic record. Experience in research is essential.

The base stipend will be at the rate of AU$27,000 per annum tax-free for three years. For further information please visit:

Please send your application by email to and cc’d to Applications should include a full CV including contact details of two referees + a covering letter. The covering letter must indicate under the following headings (max 200 words each): A. Motivation for carrying out postgraduate study; B. Why you chose Southern Cross University and Plant Science; C. Why you are interested in the specific Project; D. the background academic and/or technical expertise you bring to the project.

Click here for further details…

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