PhD Scholarship on the reproductive development of Australasian snapper (Chrysophrys auratus)

   Seafood Genomics

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  Assoc Prof Maren Wellenreuther, Assoc Prof Craig Radford  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student to be part of a group to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the reproduction of the Australasian snapper (Chrysophrys auratus).


1.   Main supervisor: Associate Professor Maren Wellenreuther, Auckland University and Plant and Food Research (PFR), Nelson, New Zealand.

2.   Co-supervisor: Craig Radford, Auckland University, New Zealand

3.   Advisor: Dr Dafni Anastasiadi (PFR), Plant and Food Research (PFR), Nelson, New Zealand.

4.   Advisor: Dr Matthew Wylie (PFR), Plant and Food Research (PFR), Nelson, 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. 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.

Understanding and controlling the reproductive development of fish in captivity is critical for the establishment of new aquaculture species and the production of high quality seed. From gonadal differentiation to gametogenesis and spawning, reproduction is regulated by external and internal cues that trigger finely tuned molecular networks. Expression of key genes associated with reproduction respond to the endocrine regulation of the brain-pituitary-gonad axis. Furthermore, epigenetic mechanisms can mediate changes in gene expression since they are inducible by external cues.

This PhD project will involve working alongside a group of experienced researchers to study the molecular mechanisms involved in the reproductive development of cultured Australasian snapper (Chrysophrys auratus), using molecular, transcriptomic and epigenomic approaches, and their association with reproductive phenotypes. The PhD student will gain experience working with collaborators from New Zealand (Mark Lokman, University of Otago), Australia (Abigail Elizur), Spain (Francesc Piferrer) and Greece (Elena Sarropoulou).

 PhD Project Aims

1. Describe the reproductive physiology of snapper in captivity to provide a basis for photoperiod manipulations and the appropriate timing for hormone-induced spawning.

2. Investigate the role of epigenomic patterns, including DNA methylation and non-coding RNAs, in regulating gametogenesis.

3. Investigate the DNA methylation patterns in gonad development in this protogynous hermaphroditic species.

 This PhD project will provide an excellent opportunity to learn the latest interdisciplinary technologies and apply them to better understand reproduction and fish (epi)genomics. The PhD student will gain experience working in academic and government 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.

 The Candidate and how to Apply

The successful candidate will be a highly motivated researcher with a strong background in laboratory techniques and computational approaches. Molecular laboratory work and data analysis of next generation sequencing data will be the main workload of the project. Therefore, knowledge and experience of a scripting language (Python/Perl) is beneficial. A proven ability and motivation to write research papers is essential.

Students will be enrolled at the University of Auckland but primarily based in Nelson ( We will provide a three-year scholarship that provides a stipend and university (domestic-level) fees.

Applicants should send a CV, contact details of two academic referees and a cover letter that states why you are interested in the position and how your qualifications and experience make you a good fit for the proposed research. Send these to Maren Wellenreuther ([Email Address Removed]). Candidate selection will begin in July, but applications will be considered until the position is filled. The ideal starting date is 1 June/July 2022. New Zealand applicants with strong academic record are encouraged to apply. 

Funding Notes

This is a directly funded Ph.D. scholarship in New Zealand. Given the current travelling restrictions we are particularly interested in applicants from New Zealand.
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