Higher Degree by Research Application Portal

TitleUnraveling the Genetic Mystery of Energy-Efficient Variegated Kangaroo Paws
SupervisorDr Conny Hooper
CourseDoctor of Philosophy
KeywordsPlant Genetics and Genomics
Australian Biodiversity
Computational Systems Biology
Horticulture and Production
Research areaBiological Sciences
Project description

Project Overview: 

Led by experts in plant biology and genomics at The University of Western Australia, the genetic exploration of Kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos) varieties marks a national and international collaboration with academic and industry partners. Focusing on the variegated A. flavidus “Stripie” variety, this project aims to understand the underlying genetics, explore the inheritance patterns, and explain the molecular mechanisms governing energy compensation. The goal is to capitalise from this trait in Kangaroo Paw breeding to create new enticing varieties and commercial potential.


Variegated plants, characterised by a captivating mix of pigmented and non-pigmented sectors in their leaves, present a unique visual appeal. The A. flavidus “Stripie” variety stands out not only for its striking phenotype but also for its remarkable vigour and robustness. In collaboration with industry partners, a comprehensive 3-year breeding program has been designed to unravel the genetic basis of the variegation trait and explain its robustness. 

 This projects aims to: 

Identify the gene defect, inheritance patterns, and molecular mechanisms underlying energy compensation in variegated A. flavidus “Stripie.” 

Decipher the energy dynamics within green and white leaf sectors through the analysis of gene expression data and metabolic modelling.

Your Role:

As a PhD candidate, you will lead the genetic and computational analysis aligned with the “Stripie” breeding program. Your responsibilities include assessing plant visual and growth traits, DNA and RNA extraction, and conducting DNAseq and RNAseq experiments. Building and simulating the first Anigozanthos metabolic network representing the “Stripie” leaf variegation. Additionally, you'll collaborate on gene mapping, identifying mutations, and validating candidate loci.

Opportunity statusOpen
Close date31 Oct 2024
Funding source

This project is funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Scheme (IE230100040) with substantial contributions from The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), Zanthorrea Nursery and New World Plants.

SchoolGraduate Research School


Specific project requirement

• Background in genetics, molecular biology, or related field.
• Strong computational, programming and analytical and skills
• Strong communication skills
• Advanced statistics and mathematics skills desirable

Additional information

Approval for admission to a PhD requires an applicant to demonstrate that they have sufficient background and experience in independent supervised research to successfully complete the course. It also requires the University to ensure that appropriate supervision and resourcing are available.

Course typeDoctorates

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a program of independent, supervised research that is assessed solely on the basis of a thesis, sometimes including a creative work component, that is examined externally. The work presented for a PhD must be a substantial and original contribution to scholarship, demonstrating mastery of the subject of interest as well as an advance in that field of knowledge. 

Visit the course webpage for full details of this course including admission requirements, course rules and the relevant CRICOS code/s.

Duration4 years


Unraveling the Genetic Mystery of Energy-Efficient Variegated Kangaroo Paws