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How non-Mendelian inheritance sculpts genome evolution

Project Description

This is a FULLY FUNDED project sponsored by the Leverhulme Trust. The scholarship covers Home/EU fees and full RC stipend (£15,009 2019/20) rate for four years. The studentship will be co-supervised by Dr Peter Ellis and Dr Marta Farre-Belmonte, offering the opportunity to acquire both “wet” and “dry” lab skills.

Transmission ratio distorters, or ‘drivers’ are genes that break the first law of Mendelian genetics, manipulating the processes of gametogenesis and/or fertilisation so that they are passed on to more than 50% of offspring. Driving genes on the sex chromosomes cause sex ratio skewing, while driving genes on other chromosomes can lead to the selfish spread of chromosome rearrangements and contribute to speciation. Although recent strides have been made in understanding drive arising during female meiosis, the mechanisms of male drive remain elusive despite the existence of several well-established model systems. This project seeks to understand male drive from three complementary perspectives; how individual genes cause drive, how genome rearrangements contribute to drive, and the evolutionary consequences of drive for genome structure.

The specific aims of this project are to:
• Investigate how haploid selection in male gametes biases reproductive processes to skew transmission ratios away from a Mendelian 50:50 ratio, using cutting-edge single-cell ‘omics analysis.
• Study how silencing of unsynapsed chromatin in postmeiotic cells potentially contributes to haploid selection using RNA-Seq and ChIP-Seq
• Reconstruct evolutionary patterns of genome rearrangement and link these to the underlying selective dynamics that promote or restrict the spread of chromosomal changes.

The candidate: We are looking for a highly motivated student, ideally with Masters’ level bioinformatics experience in some aspect of genomics.

How to apply:
Applications can be made using the online University application page: where the project title should be entered as the proposed area of research and Dr Peter Ellis as supervisor. Please include a CV and a cover letter. Applications must be received by 6 September 2019. The start date will be January 2020.

Further scholarship details can be found at:

Funding Notes

Stipend equals the full UK Research Council rate of £15,009 (rate for 2019/20), plus tuition fees covered at the rate for UK/EU students.
UK, EU and overseas fee paying students are invited to apply. International applicants should make provision to meet the difference between Home /EU and International fees. Please note that overseas students must have the appropriate documentation to evidence eligibility to work in the UK.

How good is research at University of Kent in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.20

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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