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Postdoctoral Fellow - Rumen Metagenomics
AgResearch is looking for a Postdoctoral Fellow (for a fixed term of three years) to work in the area of rumen metagenomics as part of a larger programme which is deep sequencing the rumen microbiome to find means of reducing New Zealand agricultural methane emissions from ruminant animals. The position will be based at the Grasslands campus of AgResearch in Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Ruminant animals (e.g. cattle, sheep and deer) digest plant material in the first two chambers (known as the rumen) of their four ‘stomachs’, via the action of a wide range of rumen microorganisms. An end product of this digestion is methane, which is produced by a specialised group of organisms called methanogens. Reducing the activity of methanogens in the rumen, while allowing the normal digestive functions of the remaining rumen microbes to continue, requires specific intervention against methanogens only. To be successful, these approaches require detailed knowledge of the enzymes and cellular structures that can serve as targets of methane mitigation technologies such as small molecule inhibitors and vaccines. Genome sequencing is an effective way of gaining this information.
Direct measurements of methane emitted from sheep show that some animals are naturally high methane-emitters and some are low. It is likely that both animal and rumen microbial factors contribute to these high and low methane phenotypes and initial analyses of microbes in sheep rumen samples point to consistent differences in microbial populations between the high and low methane-emitting groups.
The Postdoctoral Fellow will work in a larger research programme which is carrying out deep metagenomic and metatranscriptomic sequencing of rumen samples collected from the high and low methane emitting sheep. The Postdoctoral Fellow will test candidate genes and microbes to determine how they contribute to altered methane output using in vitro culturing techniques and analyses of gene expression.
The project involves the cultivation of strictly anaerobic rumen microbes, extraction of intact genomic DNAs and RNAs, high throughput sequencing, assembly and closure of genomes, annotation, and comparative genomics.
The persons best suited to this project will therefore have a strong academic background in areas such as microbiology (particularly anaerobic bacteriology), molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics.
For more information about this position or to apply please go to: www.careers-agresearch.co.nz
Applications close 31 August 2012.
Vacancy reference: AGR1449