Jim Willis Studentships 2018/19

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 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 $1,884.60 gross per fortnight. Applications will be assessed on the merit of the applicant. The following projects are offered for 2018/2019:

The following project will be one of the two projects offered:


Genome size and morphological variations in Lomandra species
Asparagales have a worldwide distribution and includes economically important plants, e.g. asparagus, onions and garlic. Australian Asparagales (48 genera, ca. 327 species) are morphologically diverse and inhabit a wide range of ecological niches.
Polyploidy (genome duplication events) are now known to be critically important in the evolutionary history, morphology and diversification of plants.  Polyploidy has been recognized in at least five families among Asparagales and cytological studies have suggested that several genera such as Lomandra, Bulbine, Dianella and Stypandra contain polyploids. Polyploidization may be associated with formation of hybrids and changes in genome size (1C–value) subsequent to genome duplications. 
In this research project you will investigate relationships between morphological variation, karyotypes and genome size.  We anticipate generating morphological data from herbarium specimens, karyotyping and estimating nuclear genome sizes of several Australian Asparagales using flow cytometry to understand the evolution of polyploidy.

Bee Gunn
T 03 9252 2410
E bee.gunn@rbg.vic.gov.au

Daniel Murphy
T 03 9252 2377 
E daniel.murphy@rbg.vic.gov.au 

Joanne Birch
E joanne.birch@unimelb.edu.au

Neville Walsh
T 03 9252 2310
E neville.walsh@rbg.vic.gov.au

The other project offered will be one of the projects below:

Investigating affinities of some Boletoid truffles
Using herbarium material, notes, images and molecular data, describe and name 4-5 new species of boletoid truffles. Use light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, descriptive morphology, and DNA sequencing to examine specimens from different geographic regions to support species delimitation. Write draft species descriptions and prepare figures for publication of new species.

Teresa Lebel
T 03 9252 2361
E teresa.lebel@rbg.vic.gov.au

Naveed Davoodian


Taxonomy & affinities of the genus Zelleromyces 
Six species of the truffle-like genus Zelleromyces have been described from Australia and New Zealand, however preliminary morphological and molecular data suggest there might be over 20 species. We will pick 2 species to investigate, describe, and name. Use light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, descriptive morphology, and DNA sequencing to examine specimens from different geographic regions to support species delimitation. Write draft species descriptions and prepare figures for publication of new species.

Teresa Lebel
T 03 9252 2361 
E teresa.lebel@rbg.vic.gov.au

Naveed Davoodian


Naming new fungi from Australian terrestrial orchids
Australian terrestrial orchids have obligate associations with a wide variety of fungi from the genera Ceratobasidium, Serendipita and Tulasnella, with varying degrees of specificity between orchid and fungus. While considerable effort has been expended on the taxonomy of the orchids, and their conservation and management, most of the fungi remain un-named. In this project, a novel species of fungus (already identified from multi-gene sequence analysis) will be described, based on examination of macro- and micro-morphological characters of living cultures. The project will include desk-top analysis of DNA sequence data and preparation of a manuscript in which the new fungus will be formally named.

Noushka Reiter
T 03 5990 2252

Tom May
T 03 9252 2319


Wattle we do to finish Acacia taxonomy in Victoria?
Acacia is Australia’s largest plant genus. At nearly 1000 species and 250 years of history, it might appear that they should be all sorted now.
At least two species, Acacia wilhelmiana and A. genistifolia, demonstrate morphological variation that suggests further taxa could be recognised. A project that closely measures representative herbarium specimens and analyses the resultant data via PATN or a similar analytical package will shed light on the nature of the variation in one or both of these species. Fieldwork will further test any taxonomic hypotheses generated and a report/paper will present the findings.

Neville Walsh
T 03 9252 2310

Daniel Ohlsen
T 03 9252 2369 


Investigating Tea Tree Fingers (Hypocreopsis amplectens)
Hypocreopsis amplectens forms lobed orange brown stromata on dead branches of tea-tree, paperbark, Kunzea and banksia in long unburnt stands in Victoria (listed under FFG Act), and on Nothofagus in the one confirmed location in New Zealand and unconfirmed location and host in New South Wales. This fungus is actually living on various corticioid or ‘paint-smear’ fungi (Hymenochaete sp.) - but we don’t know if they are all the same species or several different taxa. Use light microscopy and DNA sequencing to examine specimens from different populations and plant hosts to try and determine the level of variation within tea-tree fingers and within the associated Hymenochaete spp. Some field work may be required.

Teresa Lebel
T 03 9252 2361

Sapphire McMullan-Fisher
T 03 9252 2374


Enquiries and applications  

For general enquiries on studentships, please contact:
Frank Udovicic
T 03 9252 2313
E frank.udovicic@rbg.vic.gov.au

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 Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, and reasons for preference of particular project. 
Hard copies of applications should be sent to Dr Frank Udovicic, Manager Research, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Private Bag 2000 South Yarra, Victoria 3141, by 12 October 2018.