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Combating summer mortality in abalone: can a little bit of stress be beneficial?

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  • Full or part time
    Prof J Strugnell
    Dr IR Cooke
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted

Project Description

Summer mortality is a phenomenon that causes mass dies offs of molluscs during the summer months. Summer mortality affected molluscs include many economically important animals including; oysters, mussels, clams, scallops and abalone. The condition occurs in both natural and aquaculture environments and represents a considerable and increasing threat towards aquaculture and fisheries industries world-wide. Genetic factors play an important role in susceptibility and resilience to summer mortality. Recent work by our group has detected significantly different gene expression signatures in abalone that were found to be resilient to summer mortality than those that were found to be susceptible. Some of these genes were found to have antioxidant and immune–related functions.

Research in other marine species shows that inducing a slight stress response ahead of a more significant stressor (e.g. disease or high temperature) can be somewhat protective. This is yet to be explored in a research setting for abalone, either within or between generations, but could provide a useful tool for combating summer mortality events, thereby providing benefits to the aquaculture industry.

This PhD project will employ manipulative experiments carried out within the Marine and Aquaculture Research Facilities Unit (MARFU) at JCU and employ the latest genomic and bioinformatics techniques in order to investigate whether slight stressor(s) can provide a protective effect against summer mortality in abalone and if so what molecular mechanism is responsible.

Funding Notes

• PhD stipend for 2020 is ~$28,000 per annum (non-taxable) for 3.5 years and fully paid tuition fees up to 4 years.

• research Master’s degree, or
• coursework Masters' degree or graduate diploma which includes a research project or thesis of 6 months full time equivalent in duration, or
• Equivalent of Australian Honours Degree in the relevant research area

Scholarships selection is based on academic performance, paid/unpaid professional experience and published/accepted peer reviewed publications. Only the top-ranked applicants will be offered the Scholarship.

You are required to demonstrate your English language proficiency (Band 2 or higher).

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