Higher Research Degree Opportunities 


These PhD opportunity does not guarantee a scholarship.
To also be considered for a scholarship please submit an application in the relevant scholarship round.

Genetic and Environmental Drivers of Neurotoxic Cyanobacterial Blooms

Australian freshwater systems are plagued by toxic cyanobacterial (“blue-green algal”) blooms. Mitigating the effects of these blooms is a major challenge in protecting the nation’s water supplies. We will apply a state-of-the-art, genetic and biochemical approach to identify the mechanisms of adaptation used by the bloom-forming and neurotoxic cyanobacterial genera Anabaena and Dolichospermum. This project will, for the first time, assess their capacity for increased dominance, intensity and geographical distribution in Australian waterways. Understanding the molecular ecophysiology of these aquatic microorganisms is essential for improving risk assessment protocols and reducing the impact of harmful blooms.


Ramifications of Climate Change on Microbial Ecology in the Pacific Ocean

Microbial biodiversity in the tidal zone is responsible for important biological processes such as geochemical cycling and carbon sequestration. Climate change in the Pacific Islands has resulted in the restructuring of these zones effecting local freshwater ecology.

The tidal interface between the ocean and land is a complex microbiome and increased rates of shoreline recession and an increased incidence of extreme meteorological events, a consequence of climate change has resulted in a changing biological diversity. The research project will endeavour to monitor the effects of climate change through assembling locally relevant biodiversity markers for the Pacific Islands and through using Next Generation Technologies will assess the changing microbial profiles at the tidal interface. Research will heavily focus on cyanobacteria and its role in nutrient cycling in the Pacific Ocean. It will also include investigation into the microbial biodiversity and metabolomic profiles of different atolls to survey the ecological influence of niche environments on local community structures. Possible outcomes for this project include the development of a predictive model to assess the effects of global warming on biodiversity.

Interested applicants should send an email expressing their interest along with scanned copies of their academic transcripts, CV, a brief statement of their research interests and a proposal that specifically links them to the research project.

Please send the email expressing interest to Toby.Mills@newcastle.edu.au

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