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Elucidating microbiological & molecular drivers of Pacific Oyster mortality


$26,682 per annum

3.5 years





The Australian Centre for Genomic Epidemiological Microbiology (Ausgem) is looking to recruit a number of PhD students in 2018 to join its research program.

Ausgem brings together academic and government researchers who collectively aim to identify and mitigate the risk of infectious disease through the use of DNA sequencing technologies and bioinformatics.

Ausgem’s surveillance techniques for antibiotic resistance and new and emerging diseases will help equip doctors, farmers, and policy makers with better tools to protect our food supply, human and animal health, and the environment: a concept known as One Health.

Our scientists also study the effectiveness of interventions such as prebiotics, probiotics and vaccines in disease management.

N.B. New Zealand graduates are considered as domestic students and are exempt from international student fees.

Who is eligible?

Domestic and international students.

Selection process

  • A demonstrated understanding of concepts in molecular microbial ecology
  • Driving licence.

How to apply

Please send your CV and a half page expression of interest to Associate Professor Justin Seymour and Associate Professor Maurizio Labbate.

Applicants are required to have the equivalent of a BSc Honours or Masters by Research degree and must also apply for admission to a UTS PhD degree program.

Other information

About the project

In recent years, the global oyster aquaculture industry has been significantly adversely affected by oyster mortality which has led to millions of dollars in lost revenue. The Australian oyster industry has also suffered from considerable losses due to disease including Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS). The etiology of Pacific oyster diseases is complex and often poorly defined, with multiple microbiological agents including the OSHV-1 virus and a number of species of bacteria implicated in episodic mortality events.

The goal of this project will be to combine field-based studies and laboratory-based pathogen-challenge experiments to resolve the identity and molecular characteristics of the microorganisms involved in POMS. The project will involve the use of molecular microbial ecology approaches (e.g. 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing and transcriptomics) in conjunction with molecular biological and genetic approaches (including gene knock-out studies) to identify putative oyster pathogens and characterise their modes of virulence. The outcomes of this project will be relevant within the context of both (i) the microbial ecology of disease in aquatic organisms and (ii) the application of cutting-edge scientific approaches to solve productionlimiting hindrances to the aquaculture industry.

Additional supervision will be provided Associate Professor Maurizio Labbate (UTS) and Dr Cheryl Jenkins (NSW Department of Primary Industries)