Postgrad LIVE! Study Fairs

Birmingham | Edinburgh | Liverpool | Sheffield | Southampton | Bristol

University of Liverpool Featured PhD Programmes
University of Sussex Featured PhD Programmes
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Featured PhD Programmes
Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
Birkbeck, University of London Featured PhD Programmes

Transgenerational effects of pollutants: the role of the egg

  • Full or part time
    Dr S J Plaistow
    Dr P Antczak
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, January 09, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Anthropogenic stress is altering our planet at an unprecedented rate and has major implications for global biodiversity, health and the economy. This is especially true in freshwaters where there are now more than 100,000 registered chemicals that can enter natural ecosystems. It is therefore critical that we understand the impact that these novel stressors have on ecology and evolution.

Our current risk assessment framework focusses on the effect that acute and chronic pollutant exposure has on individuals. But, pollution may also affect future, non-exposed descendants if it induces non-genetic inheritance (NGI). This might arise if exposure to the pollutant induces epigenetic changes, as we have recently demonstrated in the water flea Daphnia pulex. Or alternatively, if exposure to a pollutant changes the composition, or provisioning of eggs, and this then alters gene expression and patterns of offspring development.

In this project, you will focus on the second hypothesis using a state-of-the-art metabolomic approach to quantify differences in eggs from genetically identical mothers exposed to different types of pollutants. You will then use transcriptomics and confocal microscopy to determine how the development of genetically identical offspring changes when their mothers are exposed to different pollutants, and the consequences this has for life-histories and population growth. Finally, you will develop the Daphnia egg assays as rapid pre-screening tool for use in ecological risk assessment working directly with SCYMARIS Ltd, a leading ecotoxicology lab based in Brixham, Devon.

The multifaceted nature of this project will give the successful candidate a broad training in modern biology techniques including omics, microscopy, image analysis, experimental design and statistics. The candidate will join a well-funded lab investigating mechanisms underpinning rapid adaptation, and be part of a vibrant ecology and evolution group in Liverpool’s Institute of Integrative Biology where unparalleled facilities for conducting this research are available. Please e-mail all enquiries to Dr S. Plaistow.

Funding Notes

Competitive funding of tuition fee, research costs and stipend (£14,777 tax-free, 2018-19) from the NERC Doctoral Training Partnership ACCE, View Website. ACCE – a collaboration between the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool, and York – is the only dedicated ecology/evolution/conservation Doctoral Training Partnership in the UK.

Applications (CV, letter of application, 2 referees) by email to , deadline: January 9 2019. Interviews in or after the week commencing: 11th February 2019. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed for only one project from the ACCE partnership.

This project is also available to self-funded students. A fees bursary may be available.


Harney, E., Paterson, S. and Plaistow, S. J. (2017), Offspring development and life-history variation in a water flea depends upon clone-specific integration of genetic, non-genetic and environmental cues. Functional Ecology. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12887.

Van Dooren, T.J.M., Hoyle, R.B., & Plaistow, S.J. (2016) Maternal Effects. In: Kliman, R.M. (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Biology. vol. 2, pp. 446-452. Oxford: Academic Press.

Plaistow, S.J., Shirley, C., Collin, H. Cornell, Harney, E.D. 2015 Offspring provisioning explains clone specific maternal age effects on life history and lifespan in the water flea, Daphnia pulex. The American Naturalist, 186 (3), 376-389.

Murphy C., Nisbet R., Antczak P., Garcia-Reyero N., Gergs A., Lika K., Mathews T., Muller E., Nacci D., Peace A. Incorporating sub‐organismal processes into dynamic energy budget models for ecological risk assessment. IEAM 2018.

Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here
* required field
Send a copy to me for my own records.

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2018
All rights reserved.