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Genetics of dogs: breed structure and the impact of human-mediated selection

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  • Full or part time
    Dr P Wiener
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Domesticated animals provide an ideal study system for addressing a variety of questions in biology due to their substantial phenotypic variation, the rapid rate of phenotypic change and the broad diversification between breeds within a species (Wiener & Wilkinson, 2011). Dogs are particularly extreme in this regard, showing wide variation in both physical and behavioural characteristics, and thus are an excellent model species for questions in evolutionary biology, genetics and behavioural biology.

The student will apply population genetic and genomics techniques to investigate diversity within and between dog breeds, to identify genomic regions that show evidence of selection (e.g. Gutiérrez-Gil et al., 2014) and to address whether signals of selection are enriched in regions of the genome associated with behavioural traits, as has been hypothesized more generally for domesticated animals. Other available datasets relevant to the study may also be incorporated into the analysis, including genotype data from other dog breeds and the grey wolf, the ancestral species of domestic dogs. Bioinformatics analyses will be applied to investigate functional classes of genes that are enriched in genomic regions associated with these behavioural traits and in regions showing evidence of selection.

The studentship will provide training in transferable skills and techniques in quantitative and population genetics, statistics, bioinformatics and genomic analysis. Depending on the student’s background, it may be appropriate to attend MSc courses at the University of Edinburgh. The student will also be expected to regularly attend seminars, journal clubs and local meetings. There will be opportunities for attendance at national and international conferences.

Applications including a statement of interest and full CV with names and addresses (including email addresses) of two academic referees, should be sent to: Liz Archibald, The Roslin Institute, The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Midlothian, EH25 9RG or emailed to [Email Address Removed].

When applying for the studentship please state clearly the title of the studentship and the supervisor/s in your covering letter.

All applicants should also apply through the University’s on-line application system for September 2016 entry via

International students should also apply for an Edinburgh Global Research Studentship (



Gutiérrez-Gil, B., J.J. Arranz, R. Pong-Wong, E. García-Gámez, J. Kijas and P. Wiener. 2014. Application of selection mapping to identify genomic regions associated with dairy production in sheep. PLoS One 9(5): e94623.

Wiener, P. and S. Wilkinson. 2011. Deciphering the genetic basis of animal domestication. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 278: 3161-3170.

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