We are looking for master students in molecular biology and bioinformatics to be part of an multidisciplinary projet (description below).

Please, note that the program first application deadline is March 15, 2018 for fall. However, applications may be considered after that date.

For further information, please donšt hesitate to contact Emilio Vello at

Project Description:
Climate change and environmental pollution will have a great impact on food security worldwide. The temperature increases cause, and will continue causing, more frequent drought events and, as such, an increasing concentrations of soluble chemicals (such as salt) in the field. In addition, the persistent expansion of aridity will carry a drastic "over use" of fields causing the depletion of essential nutritional components of the soil such as nitrogen. Therefore, it is prudent to respond by developing major improvements in plant breeding programs and agricultural technology.

The powerful combination of functional genomics, bioinformatics and phenomics is key to achieve this objective. In recent years, the use of non-coding RNAs as important targets for breeding agricultural trait-improvements have been spotlighted because of their role in environmental conditions regulating genes related to the growth and yield productivity of crops.

Phenomics is the large scale study of the dynamic characteristics (physical and biochemical traits or phenotype) of an organism. Modern phenomics platforms use specialize sensors with different spectral characteristics to capture subtle phenotypic changes over time at high-throughput in a non-invasive way such as growth rate, height, canopy structure, water content in leaves, pre-wilting condition, and transpiration rate. In such a way, the responses of non-coding RNA genes under different (abiotic) stress conditions can be evaluated. Camelina sativa is an important economical crop in Canada due to its nutritional properties (high content of omega-3 and omega-l fatty acids and vitamin E) as well as its potential use for biofuel production. In this project, we proposed to screen hundreds of non-coding RNAs under different stress conditions using a combined approach of genomics and phenomics in different environments to identify Camelina sativa responsive genes to agricultural important traits. This study will not only provide a set of most promising germplasm lines but also a complete phenotypic profile at different development stages under diverse stress conditions as essential elements in breeding and bio-engineering programs to develop climate-change-resilient plants.

Emilio Vello, M.Sc.
Academic Associate
McGill Plant Phenomics Platform Manager
Dept. of Biology (Stewart Building)
McGill University
1205 Dr. Penfield Ave.
Montreal, QC
Canada H3A 1B1
Office room: S3/19
Lab room: N4/3
Phone: +1-514-398-4237