Sex and Selfish Genetic Elements in Molecular Evolution

   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

Two PhD positions are available to work with Professor Adam Eyre-Walker at the University of Sussex on a variety of topics in the field of molecular evolution from September 2023.

Sexual selection is prevalent in many animal species. This classically takes two forms – males compete for access to females and females are choosy about who they mate with. Competition between males is expected to have two effects. First, it reduces the effective number of breeding individuals, because some males are much more successful than others; this increases the influence of genetic drift, a stochastic force in nature, and hence decreases the efficiency of selection. Second, it increases selection on males, by making males compete against each other. We will address several questions. Which of these two factors dominates the evolutionary dynamics? Are the effects more prevalent in certain types of genes?

Every genome contains transposable elements (TEs), sequences that propagate themselves and parasitise the genomic sequence. The evolution of these elements has been the focus of considerable research, however most of this work has centred on their effects and how they are maintained in the genome. There has been considerably less work on the sequences themselves. The project will focus on several questions. First, how do TEs maintain their sequence when they are always decaying? Second, what factors determine the balance between propagation and removal; in particular what role does recombination play in the process of removal?

The Eyre-Walker research group addresses these questions using the statistical analysis of DNA sequence data and theoretical work. Further details of the research interests can be found at and

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 attaching a CV, degree transcripts and certificates, statement of interest and two academic references. No research proposal is required. Please select PhD Biology course and state the project title under funding obtained. Select an entry date of Jan, May or Sept 2024.

Eligible applicants will hold a 2:1 BSc in a relevant subject. 

Please note the positions are only available to residents of the UK.

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

These School-funded positions cover Home (UK) tuition fees and a stipend at standard UKRI rates for 3.5 years. The positions remain open until filled, with potential start dates of Jan, May or Oct 2024.

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