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Genetic mechanisms of amphibian colour pattern and toxicity in the natural environment

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 18, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Dr. K.R. Elmer, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow,
Prof. O. Gaggiotti, School of Biology, St. Andrew’s University,

About This PhD Project

Project Description
Funding Notes
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Project Description

Colouration plays a key role in the ecology and life history of most species across all branches of the animal tree of life. Amphibians present some of the most striking colour patterns found in animals, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this variation have remained among the most poorly understood of any vertebrate.

Fire salamanders endogenously produce poisonous secretions from specialised glands that they use in predator defence. Additionally, they are famously variable in colour and pattern across lineages. However despite a considerable body of research on salamanders over hundreds of years, the relationships between colour, the environment, and toxicity has not been established. Further, the evolutionary and ecological factors that drive local colour variations have not been determined.

Fire salamanders in Europe are of major conservation concern. If the environment plays an important role on the evolution of such colourations, i.e. for thermoregulation, it is of outmost interest to understand the molecular basis of such mechanisms and their potential response to global warming that is predicted to affect salamander populations in the next decades.

This project will break new ground in our understanding of adaptation, chemical defence, and the genetic basis of colouration, using fire salamanders as a biological model.

For more details see:

All applicants need to meet NERC’s eligibility criteria to be considered for an IAPETUS studentship and these are detailed in NERC’s current studentship handbook.

IAPETUS is only able to consider applications from Home/European Union candidates. International candidates are not eligible to be considered and where an candidate from another EU country has not been resident in the UK for 3 years or more prior to the commencement of their studies with IAPETUS, they will only be eligible for a fees-only studentship.

IAPETUS is looking for candidates with the following qualities and backgrounds:

A first or 2:1 undergraduate degree, or have relevant comparable experience;
In addition, candidates may also hold or be completing a Masters degree in their area of proposed study or a related discipline; &
An outstanding academic pedigree and research potential, such as evidenced through the publication of articles, participation in academic conferences and other similar activities.

Funding Notes
IAPETUS’ postgraduate studentships are tenable for between 3 and 4 years, depending on the doctoral research project the student is studying and provides the following package of financial support:

A tax-free maintenance grant set at the UK Research Council’s national rate, which in 2019/20 is £14,999 (pending confirmation).
Full payment of their tuition fees at the Home/EU rate; &
Access to extensive research support funding.
Part-time award-holders are funded for between six (6) and eight (8) years and receive a maintenance grant at 50% of the full-time rate.

Application Process

Prospective students must apply to the University of Glasgow College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences Graduate School via the postgraduate student applications system.
Deadline: Friday 18th January 2019 at 4 pm (GMT).

In the application, students need to specify clearly that they wish to be considered for an IAPETUS2 studentship and state the research project (s) that they wish to be considered for,

Prospective students must provide/attach the following documentation/information to their application:
a) Current CV.
b) A cover letter written by the prospective student, no greater than 2 sides in length, detailing their reasons for applying and why they have selected the project that they wish to conduct.
c) Two (or more) references, avoiding any references from any members of the supervisory team that are part of the research project that they wish to conduct.
d) Full transcripts of previous qualifications obtained to date.

The successful applicant will proceed to an interview at the IAPETUS2 Studentships Panel on Wednesday 20th February 2019.

Informal inquiries in advance to Kathryn Elmer are encouraged.

Related subjects:
Evolutionary genomics
Molecular mechanism
Environmental adaptation

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