A female summer student in action investigating plant genes looking at a gel under UV light while wearing appropriate safety glasses.

CSIRO Summer Students get hands-on science experience

Summer Student Program Projects

Summer studentships offer second and third year university students an opportunity to conduct research at CSIRO Food Health and Life Sciences.

  • 23 September 2010 | Updated 18 October 2013

In this article

  1. Queensland
  2. Canberra
  3. Narrabri


Page 1 of 3

Read the details about the Summer Student Program projects offered in Queensland.

1. Selecting a herbicide tolerant tofu bean.

Supervisor: Andrew James

Location: CSIRO St Lucia campus, Brisbane

Strong demand from grain growers exists for herbicide-tolerant soybean varieties to make weed control easier.

In partnership with the Australian Soybean Breeding Program, this project will evaluate backcross-derived soybean lines augmented with the naturally occurring sulfonyl-urea (SU) tolerance gene.

The lines will be tested at various growth stages and with various rates of the herbicide to test the degree of tolerance expressed in Australian genetic backgrounds and under Australian cropping conditions.

Grain from the varieties will also be tested in laboratory to confirm that the protein profile of the derived lines matches that of the parent cultivar via SDS Page electrophoresis and that the texture and gelling characteristics also match via use of the small-scale tofu method.

This project includes work in the field and laboratory.

Apply for: Selecting a herbicide tolerant tofu bean.

2. Teasing apart sugar's complex genome using bioinformatics.

Supervisor: Paul Berkman

Location: CSIRO St Lucia Campus, Brisbane

Genome sequencing has revolutionised plant research activities around the world, with recent developments enabling the sequencing of billions of nucleotides in a single day.

These advances are enabling in-depth analysis not only of large nuclear genomes, but also the sequences of the smaller chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes, which provide insight into the evolutionary history of plants and important elements of their energy production.

Sugarcane is a crop of major importance in Queensland and around the world.

However, its genome is nearly double the size of the human genome and more highly complex, with a sequence that is yet to be determined.

This project will undertake an in-depth bioinformatic analysis of sugarcane next generation sequencing data to assemble and analyse the organellar genomes of sugarcane.

The results should help to characterise biodiversity in this complex crop throughout the world.

This project work is computer based.

Apply for: Teasing apart sugar's complex genome using bioinformatics.

3. FastPhysio: Building Near Infrared (NIR) prediction models for plant physiological traits.

Supervisor: Paul Warburton

Location: University of Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs

Leaf water content is one of the most common biochemical parameters limiting biochemical processes in plants.

Plant - water relations are therefore of particular interest to researchers where relative decreases in physiological variables such as stomatal conductance, relative water content, photosynthetic rate and leaf water potential may indicate water stress in a plant.

Conventional technologies used to measure these variables can be cumbersome and/or time consuming.

In recent years, near infrared spectroscopy analysis has been applied in a range of agricultural crops to model some physiological traits.

Following on, this project aims to develop predictive models using near infrared spectroscopy for a range of physiological traits in three, commercially important, Eucalyptus species.

Such models facilitate the rapid, non-destructive assessment of large populations, usually unfeasible using conventional methods.

This, in turn, may allow us to investigate the genetic architecture and relationships among the processes that regulate complex biological processes.

Predictive physiological models may also dramatically reduce the time and associated costs of calibrating physiology process-based models.

This project includes work in the glasshouse and laboratory.

Apply for: FastPhysio: Building Near Infrared (NIR) prediction models for plant physiological traits.

4. Diversification and evolution of the Beard orchids (Calochilus, Orchidaceae): a molecular study.

Supervisors: Katharina Schulte and Claire Micheneau

Location: Australian Tropical Herbarium, Cairns

The Beard orchids (Calochilus, 30 species) are one of Australia’s most charismatic terrestrial orchid groups.

With their lip covered with colourful protrusions the flowers resemble a bearded figurine.

The group diversified nearly exclusively in Australia and displays an interesting distribution pattern, with a centre of diversity in the southeast and disjunct occurences in Western Australia, the Australian tropics, and New Caledonia.

So far, little is known about their evolutionary history and historical biogeography.

This project aims to reconstruct the first molecular phylogeny of Beard orchids based on multi-locus molecular data to obtain insights into their diversification, evolution, and historical biogeography.

You will be trained in the relevant lab techniques including extracting DNA and generating DNA sequence data, and will learn how to reconstruct phylogenetic trees from these molecular data.

Based on your phylogenetic trees, you will set out to elucidate the evolution of morphological characters and to reconstruct the historical biogeography of these iconic orchids.

This project includes laboratory and computer based work. There is also a potential field trip.

Apply for: Diversification and evolution of the Beard orchids (Calochilus, Orchidaceae): a molecular study.