PhD Position in Plant Pathology - Resistance to necrotrophic fungi of the family Sclerotiniaceae

   School of Natural Sciences

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  Dr Paul Dijkwel  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Plant diseases caused by fungi belonging to the family sclerotiniaceae affect over 500 different plant species including grape, strawberry and bean. Using the interaction of the Sclerotiniaceous fungus Ciborinia camelliae with blooms of camellia plants as a model, we recently revealed pathways that contribute to resistance to this fungus.

This project aims to discover how plant resistance strategies pathways affect fungal infection of three fungi, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, Ciborinia camelliae and Botrytis cinerea.

We expect that knowledge gained from this project will help develop novel and natural fungicides for agricultural and horticultural purposes that could be used to control fungal diseases.

The PhD position will involve field collection of samples, microbiological and plant pathology work, molecular biology, and bioinformatics.

We will be working alongside industry partners and the New Zealand Camellia Society.

 Applicants should have a background in plant biology with a genuine interest in plant pathology or a background in fungal biology with interest in plant biology. Relevant experience in bioinformatics and molecular biology is an advantage. Applicants should hold, or expect to hold, a high-grade Honours or Masters-level degree (or equivalent) in relevant life sciences.

 Principal supervisor will be Associate Professor Paul Dijkwel (School of Natural Sciences, Massey University)

Training will involve the acquisition of valuable skills in high-throughput sequence data handling and their application to the critically important area of plant health, providing a solid foundation for further relevant international employment opportunities.

 The location where the PhD will be undertaken is at the Palmerston North campus, at the School of Natural Sciences (SNS) (

 Massey University has a strong Plant Biology group with excellent plant growth facilities for performing experiments under both controlled and greenhouse conditions. Relevant to the project, the school hosts an extensive microscopy center and a genomics facility.  

The Dijkwel lab currently has 4 post graduate students working on various of plant-microbe interaction projects.

 You fit with us:

  •  if you are curious, open-minded, and keen to learn and develop.
  • if you can work independently and strategically.
  • if you are interested in working in and being part of an 'international' group.
  • if you are excited about a move to New Zealand

 We offer you:

  • a highly motivated team with excellent scientific and technical infrastructure.
  • an inspiring research environment, the opportunity to attend conferences and to develop personal strength through connections, learning and a personal, dedicated supervision approach.
  • an exciting 3-year PhD position starting as soon as possible.
  • a scholarship with a value of 25,000 NZD tax free p/a plus PhD registration fees (Currently approx. 8,500 NZD for international and domestic students) for up to 3 years.

 International applicants should meet the Massey University English language requirement for postgraduate studies.

 Applications should be e-mailed to [Email Address Removed] and should include a full CV, a cover letter outlining your interests in relation to this research, and the names and contact details of two academic referees. The closing date for applications is 18 September 2022.

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