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  EASTBIO Genetic study of dairy cattle resilience to climate change and nutrient intake variation

   PHD Opportunities

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  Prof G Banos, Prof J Newbold, Dr Bingjie Li, Dr Enrique Sanchez-Molano  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD project will examine the capacity of dairy cows to respond to environmental challenges manifested in climate change and variation in the nutritional value of consumed feed. The hypothesis is that different animals respond differently to such challenges, partly due to inherent genetic factors.

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work with data from a unique dairy cattle population raised at the SRUC research farm in Scotland. The cows are closely monitored and densely phenotyped as part of a long-running feed and genetic selection study. Individual cow data include milk yield and composition (protein, fat, lactose), feed intake, live body weight, body condition score, reproduction, and health records. These performance data span more than 20 years and will be matched with corresponding weather data and data on the nutrient composition of feed consumed by the cows. 

All data will then be jointly analysed with random regression models to derive novel phenotypes reflecting the response of animal performance to variation in weather and nutrient intake. The magnitude of this response will determine the animal’s resilience to external challenge.

The novel resilience phenotypes will subsequently be analysed together with available animal pedigree and genotypic data from genome-wide DNA arrays. These analyses will aim to genetically characterise animal resilience through variance component and genetic parameter estimation, genome-wide association studies, regional heritability mapping and calculation of genomic breeding values. Genetic and genomic associations of resilience with other cow traits (productivity, reproduction, health) will also be derived.

The project will require advanced data handling skills and aptitude in statistical, computational and genomic analysis. Relevant specialised training will be available as needed.

Application Process:

Please visit this page for full application instructions

1)     Download and complete the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion survey.

2)     Download and complete the EASTBIO Application Form.

3)     Submit both to SRUC, [Email Address Removed].

Completed applications must include the following documents:

-         Completed EASTBIO application form

-         2 References (to be completed on the EASTBIO Reference Form, also found on the EASTBIO website)

-         Academic Qualifications

-         Equality, Diversity and Inclusion survey

Unfortunately due to workload constraints, we cannot consider incomplete applications. Please make sure your application is complete by the 16th December 2021. Please ask your referees to submit your references directly to [Email Address Removed].

We anticipate that our first set of interviews will be held 7th – 11th February 2022 with awards made from 18 February.

Funding Notes

This 4 year PhD project is part of a competition funded by EASTBIO BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership.
This opportunity is open to UK and International students and provides funding to cover stipend and UK level tuition (limited funding is available to provide international tuition fees). Please refer to UKRI website and Annex B of the UKRI Training Grant Terms and Conditions for full eligibility criteria.

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