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Pollinator fertility in a warming world

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

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  Dr A Bretman, Dr E.J.. Duncan, Dr Tom Price  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

After the heat waves we experienced this summer, we are starting to see the devastating impacts of climate change. However, most biological predictions of how climate change will impact species are based on the temperatures which are lethal for a species. We’ve recently learnt that many species can become entirely sterile at temperatures well below those that kill them, meaning the effects of climate change have been underestimated. In addition, it seems that sperm are much more vulnerable than eggs, but it’s not clear why. We urgently need to understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms that make species vulnerable to fertility loss at high temperatures.

In this project we will use honeybees and bumblebees, species that as pollinators are vital for food production. Bees are also interesting because mating occurs during a short time window, but queens can store sperm for years. We will assess the upper thermal limits of eggs, sperm and sperm stored by females. We will assess when during gametogenesis processes break down by assaying DNA damage. Linking with a project on fruit flies, we will examine whether similar genes are involved in protecting fertility across species.


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper-second class honours degree or a MSc degree in a relevant subject.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Biological Sciences minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.0 overall, with no element less than 5.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 87 with the listening and reading element no less than 20, writing element no less than 21 and the speaking element no less than 22.

How to apply:

To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable).

To help us identify that you are applying for this studentship please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • When asked for source of funding please make it clear that you are applying for a "White Rose BBSRC DTP Studentship"
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert. You can be considered for up to 3 projects in total.

If you have any further queries regarding this opportunity, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This opportunity is funded by the White Rose BBSRC DTP and will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £17,668 (based on the 2022/23 rate). The award will also cover academic fees. This opportunity is available to UK and International fee rated applicants. Please note that any expenses related to the relocation of international students to the UK (visa, insurance, NHS fees, flights, etc) would be their responsibility and are not covered by this award.

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