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PhD on disease and stress genomics of two New Zealand finfish species

Project Description

We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student to be part of a group to investigate the disease and stress genomics of the New Zealand snapper (Chrysophrys auratus) and trevally (Pseudocaranx georgianus).

Associate Professor Maren Wellenreuther, Auckland University and Plant and Food Research (PFR), Nelson, New Zealand.
Dr. Steve Bird, Waikato University, New Zealand.

Aquaculture is the fastest growing food-production sector and New Zealand has the potential to develop a range of locally grown finfish species to meet this increasing demand. New genomics-based selective breeding programs are needed to help develop recently domesticated fish species into premium products. Plant and Food Research ( is known worldwide for its innovative breeding and genomics research, and it is leading the development of New Zealand seafood genomics.

This PhD project will involve working alongside a group of experienced researchers to study the genomes of the New Zealand snapper and trevally to identify and characterize immune genes, screen for genome-wide disease markers using a pedigree from domesticated populations, evaluate the bacterial disease metacommunities and conduct gene expression analyses using transcriptomics and qPCR. This will involve using high-throughput sequencing approaches, coupled with automated and error-reduced image based phenotyping. The overall goal is to characterize the immune systems of both fish species to better understand disease resistance in domesticated populations, facilitating a rapid and efficient selective breeding programme.

PhD Project Aims
1. Use whole genome assemblies and transcriptomes to identify immune genes and pathways,
2. Use genomic information to improve detection of novel disease QTLs,
3. Assess stress and disease resistance of hatchery individuals, and understand their bacterial disease communities.

This PhD project will provide an excellent opportunity to learn the latest interdisciplinary technologies and apply them to fish genomics. The PhD student will gain experience working in academic, government and private sector institutions. They will be a member of a highly active and collaborative group of researchers, and help develop new technological approaches and applied-genomic tools.

Applicants should send a CV, a statement of their research interests and a cover letter to Maren Wellenreuther ().

Funding Notes

University scholarships are available for international students (typically with GPA above 8).

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