Study of the breeding of self-fertile macadamia cultivars

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Supervisor – Professor Bruce Toppb.topp@uq.edu.au

QAAFI leads the Australian macadamia breeding program which is developing new cultivars for the national $250million industry.  Australia is the world’s second largest producer of macadamia, with cultivation of 17,000 ha in Queensland and New South Wales.  We are selecting for the industry defined target traits of yield, tree size, nut quality, rootstocks and pest resistance using modern quantitative genetic analysis and incorporating genomic technologies. Our vision is to have Australian-bred cultivars as the nut of choice.

Macadamia is predominantly a self-incompatible nut crop and this creates complications in commercial orchards with a requirement of cross-compatible cultivars and insect-pollinators. Some level of self-fertility has been identified in macadamia. Incorporation of self-fertility in elite cultivars may reduce production costs and assist in sustainable orchard production. The extent of this variability in our existing germplasm and the mechanism of self-compatibility is unclear. In addition, current trait-phenotyping is time consuming and costly. Exploiting genetic and molecular technologies may assist us in rapid selection of elite self-fertile cultivars.

In this project, the HDR scholar will observe the variability in the degree of self-fertility in breeding progeny, elite selections, cultivars and wild germplasm maintained by QAAFI’s National Macadamia Breeding and Evaluation Program. Inheritance of the self-fertility trait and genetic correlation with other traits will be evaluated. Experiments will be conducted to elucidate the mechanisms of self-compatibility and genome-wide assocaiton studies will be conducted to identify markers associated with the trait.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of plant reproductive biology, plant breeding, quantitative and molecular genetics, statistics and data analysis would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of plant sciences and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of plant reproductive biology is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2023. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

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