International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)


Job Time: Full-Time
Job Type: Contract
Place of Work: Addis Ababa
Posted date: 1 month ago
Application Deadline: Submition date is over

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks to recruit an MSc student to focus on the identification of molecular markers suitable for marker-assisted selection of Napier grass. The overall goal of this project is to develop a genomics database for Napier grass; thereby enabling breeders to apply advanced plant breeding procedures such as genomic selection and marker-assisted breeding in their projects.

ILRI works to improve food and nutritional security and reduce poverty in developing countries through research for efficient, safe, and sustainable use of livestock. It is the only one of 15 CGIAR research centers dedicated entirely to animal agriculture research for the developing world. Co-hosted by Kenya and Ethiopia, it has regional or country offices and projects in East, South and Southeast Asia as well as Central, East, Southern and West Africa.

About the position:

Feeds and Forage Development program aims to provide options to increase the quantity and quality of feed resources to improve livestock productivity in order to meet the growing demand for animal-source food; enhance profitability by reducing feed costs; increase income, employment, and livelihoods from feed/fodder value chains and reduce labor/drudgery (especially for women); and reduce the environmental impact of feed. See more

Napier grass (Cenchrus purpureus syn. Pennisetum purpureum L.), is one of the most important tropical forage grasses known for its high biomass yield, year-round availability under irrigated conditions, and resistance to most pests and diseases. The ILRI Genebank holds over 100 accessions and progeny seeds produced naturally from different accessions. However, little information exists on the amount of diversity held in this collection and how this relates to collections held in other genebanks. Generating more information and understanding the diversity in the collection, in the progeny, and in accessions sourced from other genebanks, for germplasm enhancement will enhance the conservation and utilization of the genetic resources. Thus, the graduate fellow will work together with ILRI scientists to assess the genetic diversity in the collections and progeny plants through genotyping and phenotypic characterization.

The ILRI Feed and Forage Development program has an established molecular laboratory and bioinformatics capabilities to support this research-based in ILRI Ethiopia. In addition, the Integrated Genotyping Service and Support (IGSS) platform and broader BecA-ILRI capabilities are available at ILRI Kenya to support this work. Under the supervision of ILRI scientists, the graduate fellow will mainly focus on the identification of molecular markers (SNPs, indels) suitable for marker-assisted selection of Napier grass, using the results of the GWAS studies. The student will gain knowledge and skills in conventional plant breeding approaches, advanced molecular techniques, and basic bioinformatics applications, in line with societal needs and ILRI’s effort to train future plant breeders. The fellow will be based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with travel to Nairobi, Kenya as necessary.

Project title:  Genetic diversity study and GWAS in a Napier grass (Cenchrus purpureus) collections in Sub Sahara Africa.

Key responsibilities:

  1. Literature survey on “Progress in genetic diversity & molecular breeding in Napier grass” 
  2. Isolate DNA from Napier grass and barcode DNA accessions for long term storage
  3. Apply R packages for GWAS analysis and phylogenetics (Gapit, PLINK & ape, etc.)
  4. Develop skills in Linux basics (handling fq files, alignment & variant calling)
  5. Use and optimize oxford nanopore technology at FFD and National Institute
  6. Data analysis and write-up (at least 1 poster and 1 peer-reviewed journal publication)

Position Requirements:

  1. Completed MSc course work in Plant Science, Biological Sciences, or a related field and ready to start his/her thesis project.
  2. Degree in Plant Science, Biological Sciences, or a related field
  3. Demonstrated experience working in molecular genetics, quantitative genetics or bioinformatics
  4. Good working knowledge of MS Office packages
  5. Experience contributing to writing reports and journal publications
  6. An effective and energetic team player with the ability to work in a multidisciplinary and multi-cultural environment
  7. Ability to work independently, multi-task and meet tight deadlines
  8. Proficiency with written and spoken English

Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Duration: 6 months

Terms of appointment and stipend:

This is an appointment for initially 6 months with a possibility of extension. The start date will be agreed with the selected candidate, but ideally from September onwards.

Benefits: ILRI will offer a stipend to cover living expenses in the project location, medical insurance, and cover research expenses.

How to apply

Applicants should send a cover letter and CV expressing their interest in the position, what they can bring to the fellowship and the names and addresses (including telephone and email) of three referees who are knowledgeable about the candidate’s professional qualifications and work experience to the Head of Capacity Development through our website "Click Here" on or before 30th June 2020. The position title and reference number REF: GF/ILRI/FFD/06/2020 should be clearly marked on the subject line of the cover letter.

We thank all applicants for their interest in working for ILRI. Due to the volume of applications, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

ILRI does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing, or training). ILRI also does not concern itself with information on applicants' bank accounts.

To find out more about ILRI visit our websites at

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