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How do genomes respond to sexual system transitions?

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, January 06, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

How genomes respond to conflicting evolutionary forces is a crucial and challenging question in evolutionary biology. This challenge can now be tackled given the huge improvements in genome sequencing technologies and computing power, allowing the analysis of multiple complete genomes. In this PhD you will use the latest approaches to test how evolutionary changes in sexual systems, affecting the level of genome wide conflict, impact the structure and composition of genomes. You will use, tadpole shrimps (Triops), an excellent system to address this question as they have undergone repeated switches in sexual system.

With collaborators, we have pioneered the development of the Triops model system for sex chromosome evolution and established a platform of genomic resources (Mathers et al., 2013b, 2013a, 2015)(Orr, 2017). Sex in Triops is genetically determined with a ZW system (Mathers et al., 2015). We have identified sex-linked markers in three draft genome assemblies (male, female and hermaphrodite), which also show that Triops have compact genomes (ca. 125 Mb)(Orr, 2017). Triops sexual systems are variable, with at least five independent evolutionary transitions between separate sexes (gonochorism, fully outcrossing) to hermaphroditism (which have various levels of self-fertilisation) (Zierold, Hanfling and Gómez, 2007; Zierold et al., 2009; Mathers et al., 2013a). These multiple transitions involve sharp changes in genome-wide conflict, which allows tests in independent lineages providing statistical robustness. This makes Triops a unique system for studying the evolution of sexual systems and sex chromosomes. In this PhD you will examine crucial questions about the impact of these transitions on the genome using cutting-edge technological advances that have allowed to obtain long range, phased genomic data, which allows the sequencing of high quality genomes in a highly cost effective way.

Funding Notes

Eligible for funding under the NERC Panorama DTP (stipend and UK/EU fees for 3.5 years)

View Website

1) Contact the supervisor of your chosen project to register your interest. Please note that you can only apply for 1 project within the DTP.

2) Apply online - View Website

The programme code is ‘NERC PANORAMA DTP’. Section 10 request information about the research area - you should input the title of the project that you wish to be considered for and the supervisors’ names.

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