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John Maynard Smith Studentship: What determines levels of adaptive genetic diversity?

   School of Life Sciences

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  Prof A Eyre-Walker  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Project overview

Crucial to the adaptive process is genetic variation that selection can act upon. Surprisingly we know relatively little about this type of genetic variation. We know that most organisms have quantitative genetic variation (QGV) for most traits, but we do not know to what extent this variation varies between species, and if it does vary, what factors influence the level of genetic variation. In this project we will quantify how much variation there is between species and explore the forces that influence the level of QGV. We will also explore a model by which adaptive evolution affects genetic diversity, proposed by John Maynard Smith, the founding father of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex. There will be opportunities to develop novel lines of enquiry that build upon these themes. The project should give us novel insights into this crucial component of genetic diversity.

The studentship will be held in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex which has been one of the leading institutions for the study of evolution since its founding by John Maynard Smith.

Candidate requirements

The project will involve bioinformatics, statistical and theoretical analysis. Ideal candidates should have a good understanding of evolutionary biology and population genetics and some experience of computer programming and statistical analysis. The project will allow the student to develop their expertise in these fields.

Enquiries and applications

Informal enquiries can be made to Prof Adam Eyre-Walker ([Email Address Removed]). Applications should be made through the University of Sussex’s online application system and under the funding section enter the John Maynard Smith studentship.

Funding Notes

This School-funded position covers Home tuition fees and a stipend at standard UKRI rates for 3.5 years (£15,609 for 2021/22). Applicants with overseas fee status will need to fund the difference between Home and International tuition fees.


James, J.E. & Eyre-Walker, A. (2020) Mitochondrial DNA sequence diversity in mammals: a correlation between the effective and census population sizes. Genome Biology Evolution 12, 2441-2449
Castellano, D., James, J.E. & Eyre-Walker, A. (2018) Nearly neutral evolution across the Drosophila genome. Mol. Biol. Evol. 35, 2685-2694.

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