Jim Willis Studentships
Jim Willis Studentships 2015/16
The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria invites applications for vacation studentships honouring the late Dr James Hamlyn Willis, distinguished former senior member of staff at the National Herbarium of Victoria. You will be in the third or fourth year of a Science degree, with interests in plant and/or fungal systematics. The studentship will allow you to participate, under supervision, in one of the research programs at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.
There are two studentships available and each is awarded for an eight week period during December to February, and remuneration is $1,673.63 gross per fortnight. Applications will be assessed on the merit of the applicant. The following projects are offered for 2015/16:
Taxonomic and horticultural review of Melaleuca used in landscape plantings at RBGV
The Australian genus Melaleuca is an important component of the horticultural architecture of the Australian Garden at Cranbourne Gardens. Species and morphological forms are chosen to fulfil various landscape roles but there is uncertainty surrounding the identification of some plants and the possibility of interspecific hybridisation. By comparing morphological characters of growing plants and herbarium specimens, along with their genetic similarity using DNA-based population genetic analysis, you will identify the species, the relationships between three distinct morphological groups (two morphological forms may be the same species) and determine whether seedlings are the offspring of one morphological form or hybrids between them. This information will be used to decide if the Melaleuca species under question should be retained and if seedlings pose a risk to the integrity of the current landscape plantings and the adjacent indigenous wetland vegetation. The position will be based at Melbourne Gardens.
T 9252 3378
T 9252 2310
Taxonomy & affinities of some truffle-like fungi
Gymnogaster boletoides, Mycoamaranthus cambodgensis, and Royoungia boletoides are boletoid truffle-like fungi that are distinctive and apparently widespread. However, preliminary DNA analysis suggests there may be one or two cryptic species hiding under each of these names, and their relationships to epigeal boletes is not confirmed for all taxa. Morphological data will be scored and a selection of specimens sequenced to provide support for species delimitation and to determine affinities of the genera. Light microscopy, descriptive morphology, and DNA extraction and analysis.
T 9252 2361
Cryptic species? Lactarius clarkeae and Russula flocktoniae
Lactarius clarkeae and Russula flocktoniae are widespread, robust mushrooms with orange tinged caps and white flesh. As latex production can be ephemeral under dry conditions, mixed collections abound, and species limits have been a little confused. Preliminary DNA analysis of 3 genes suggests there may be as many as nine cryptic species hiding under these names. Use morphological and molecular characters to examine specimens from different geographic regions to help delimit potential cryptic species. Light microscopy, descriptive morphology, and DNA extraction and analysis.
T 9252 2361
Species delimitation and generic affinities of the stinkhorn Itajahya
The stinkhorn genus Itajahya has been supported as distinct from Phallus in phylogenetic analyses based on a single accession of I. rosea from Brazil, and three collections of I. galericulata from South Africa. However, acceptance of a broad concept of genus Phallus, inclusive of Itajahya, is also consistent with these phylogenies. The affinities of Australian material of Itajahya and some species of Phallus are currently unknown. i) complete morphological studies of collections; ii) sequence 20 collections of Australian Itajahya and Phallus to better determine species and generic limits; iii) conduct some climatic modelling (Brazil = rainforest, S. Africa and Australia = desert). Light microscopy, descriptive morphology, and DNA extraction and analysis.
T 9252 2361
T 9252 2319
Fecal matters: fungal diversity in Southern Brown bandicoot scats from South East Melbourne
Native marsupials snack on available fungi, the spores are passed through the gut into the fecal pellets, providing a subsampling of the fungi currently fruiting at any particular place and time. They are also potentially a neat ‘inoculum plus manure’ package for use in restoration, however we need to confirm that no plant pathogens are being transferred, and to get some idea of level of potential fungal diversity being moved around. Samples from 3 different sites, Koo Wee Rup Swamp, Quail Island, and RBGV Cranbourne Gardens are available for comparison. i) Test for presence of plant pathogen Phytophthora using test-kits and bait plants; ii) conduct morphological examination of scats and classify diversity of spore morphotypes; iii) compare morphological fungal diversity and molecular fungal diversity (using ‘stool-kit’) of 5-10 samples from each site.
T 9252 2361
Sarah Maclagan (Deakin)
Enquiries and applications
For general enquiries on studentships please contact:
T 9252 2313
Applications should include a curriculum vitae (including university transcript), two referees, and a brief covering letter explaining how the applicant would benefit from the Jim Willis Studentship and how they can contribute to research at the Royal Botanic Gardens, and reasons for preference of particular project.
Hard copies of applications should be sent to Dr Frank Udovicic, Plant Sciences Manager, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Private Bag 2000 South Yarra, Victoria 3141, by 15 October 2015.