About the Project
While the existence of plasticity has been demonstrated in a variety of organisms, we lack explicit tests of predictions of whether and how plasticity is adaptive given current and future conditions. Further, we know very little about the mechanisms underlying plastic responses to changing environmental conditions but predict that epigenetic changes play a key role.
This project seeks to establish the fitness and developmental consequences of plasticity under changing conditions of the dietary and habitat environment and search for correlated responses in the epigenome. Selection experiments coupled with molecular methods will be used to test predictions, for example about the effects of poor versus good conditions in early and adult environment on development and fitness. We use daphnia, cockroaches or aphids as model systems. We next wish to investigate how responses to changing environments are manifest at the epigenome level by analysing patterns of methylation and histone modifications. Thus, the project tackles the key question of how rapidly changing environments impact on future development and offers a great opportunity to work on phenotypic plasticity and epigenetics testing key hypothesis in behavioural and evolutionary ecology.
Training/techniques to be provided:
The student will be trained in core biological skills ranging from experimental design, in-vivo techniques to statistical analysis as well as the emerging field of epigenetics. This project offers the unique opportunity to work at the forefront of epigenetics research linked to challenges caused by rapid changes in the environment, which are core areas identified by research councils in the UK (BBSRC, NERC) and the US (NIH).
This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (View Website). For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (View Website).
Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor.
Luquet E, Tariel J. 2016. Offspring reaction norms shaped by parental environment: interaction between within- and trans-generational plasticity of inducible defenses. BMC Evolutionary Biology 16(1): 209.
Levis NA, Pfennig DW. 2016. Evaluating plasticity first evolution in nature: key criteria and empirical approaches. TREE 31:563-574
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