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Genomics of colour pattern mimicry in Neotropical catfishes (TAYLOR_UBIO23ARIES)

   School of Biological Sciences

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  Dr M Taylor, Prof T Chapman, Prof D S Richardson  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Scientific background  

Mimetic relationships  - where two or more species share colour patterns to reduce attacks by predators are some of the most powerful demonstrations of natural selection. The best-known examples can be found in Heliconius butterflies, millipedes and poison arrow frogs. A less well-known, but nevertheless intriguing system can be found in the Corydoras catfishes, where multiple communities of mimics can be found coexisting across South America.  

Using whole genome resequencing, this project will investigate the genetic basis of colour pattern traits involved in mimicry and search for signatures of selection both within and among mimicry rings to gain a better understanding of how mimicry has evolved.  

Research methodology  

The project will use existing chromosome level whole genome sequences with additional whole genome resequencing of Corydoradinae species involved in different mimicry rings, coupled with cutting edge bioinformatic analyses (e.g. detecting positive selection and selective sweeps) to identify genes and genomic regions associated with colour pattern mimicry. 


The applicant will receive training in molecular laboratory techniques such as DNA extraction, polymerase chain reaction, Next generation sequencing, bioinformatic methods for comparative genome analysis and detection of selection within and among species. There will also be training in advanced statistical methods and plotting in R. There is the potential for conducting fieldwork in South America, but this is not essential for the project. 

Person specification  

The applicant should have a degree in Biological Sciences or similar and strong background/interest in genetics and or evolutionary biology. An aptitude for bioinformatic analyses and demonstrable experience with scripting would be an advantage although not essential. 

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please visit the UEA website www.uea.ac.uk

The start date is October 2023.

Funding Notes

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP. Successful candidates will be awarded a NERC studentship, which covers fees, stipend (£17,668 for 2022/23) and funding to support the doctoral research. Excellent applicants from quantitative disciplines may be considered for an additional three months’ studentship funding.

Unfortunately, no additional funding is available to assist with relocation or visa costs.

ARIES encourages applications from all, regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, age, or sexual orientation. Academic qualifications are considered alongside relevant non-academic experience.

For further information, please visit www.aries-dtp.ac.uk


1 Alexandrou, M., Oliveira, C, Maillard, M, McGill, R.A.R., Newton, J., Creer, S. and M. I. Taylor. (2011) Competition and phylogeny determine community structure in Müllerian co-mimics. Nature 469:84–88, 2011. DOI:10.1038/nature09660
2 Marburger S, Alexandrou M, Taggart JB, Creer S, Carvalho G, Oliveira C, Aylor, M.I. et al. Whole genome duplication and transposable element proliferation drive genome expansion in Corydoradinae catfishes. Proceedings of the Royal Soc: B Biol Sci. 2018 Feb 14;285(1872). 20172732.
3 Bell, E. A., Butler, C. L., Oliveira, C., Marburger, S., Yant, L., & Taylor, M. I. (2022). Transposable element annotation in non-model species: The benefits of species-specific repeat libraries using semi-automated EDTA and DeepTE de novo pipelines. Molecular Ecology Resources, 22, 823– 833. https://doi.org/10.1111/1755-0998.13489
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