Genetic analysis of ascorbate and glutathione functions in grapevine

Discovering how antioxidants regulate the growth of grapevines

From studies in annual plants we know that the antioxidants ascorbate and glutathione are immensely important regulators of plant growth and stress response, however we know very little about their function in perennial life cycles.

Our understanding of perennial crop growth is critically lagging behind annual species such as cereals. Australia has a world-leading capacity to genetically manipulate grapevine for the advancement of science and productivity.

This project will exploit this capacity to investigate the functions of ascorbate and glutathione – which are key regulators of annual plant growth – in regulating the perennial life cycle of grapevine. Because more than 95% of fruit and nut crops are woody perennials, an improved understanding of the growth and development of grapevine will guide new strategies to manage perennial crops in current and future Australian climates.

Project goals:

  • To design RNAi constructs to knock down grapevine ascorbate and glutathione synthesis in grapevine.
  • To transform, confirm and phenotype juvenile growth of grapevine transformants.
  • To investigate growth and stress phenotypes of transformants.

The successful applicant will work under the supervision of A/Prof Considine (UWA), Dr Mandy Walker (CSIRO Adelaide) and Prof Christine Foyer (Birmingham UK) to carry out the project goals. In doing so, the applicant will benefit from the exceptional research environments and develop leading molecular, genetic and communication skills. There are no constraints on scholarly publication.

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Research team leader: Associate Professor Michael Considine

I have a passion for how plants use metabolic and molecular cues to shape their development in response to environmental change and seasonality. I currently hold and an ARC Future Fellowship at the University of Western Australia, and partner with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), where I was previously employed. My skills in molecular biology and physiology, together with my background in the agriculture industry have enabled me to build success in multidiscipline teams addressing industry challenges with cutting-edge technologies. Viticulture and horticulture are my major economic interests but I am also passionate about other food and health industries.

At a biochemical level, my major interests are in the roles of oxygen and redox signalling. At a physiological level my interests are quiescence and dormancy in woody perennials, such as grapevine. This project is a great example of where these two domains converge.

How to Apply

Check criteria
  • To be accepted into the Doctor of Philosophy, an applicant must demonstrate they have sufficient background experience in independent supervised research to successfully complete, and provide evidence of English language proficiency
  • Requirements specific to this project:
    • Excellent communication and personal management skills are expected.
    • The ability to travel independently to Adelaide for extended research visits is desired.
    • Demonstrated experience in plant tissue, genetic modification or breeding is desired.
    • Demonstrated experience in molecular biology and biochemistry is desired.
    • Applicants will be expected to apply for and accept an Australian-government PhD scholarship if awarded. In this circumstance, the applicant would be offered a $5,000 pa PhD top-up in lieu of the ad hoc scholarship
Submit enquiry to research team leader
  • Contact the research team leader by submitting an Expression of Interest form via the button below
  • After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, contact to proceed with your application


Scholarship specific to this project
Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.

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