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The uterine environment and its association with transgenerational performance in pigs

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Lisa Collins
    Dr N Forde
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Domestic pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus) face a range of environmental challenges throughout their life course, and there is considerable variability between pigs in how well they cope with these challenges. Part of this variability may be explained by sensitivities exacerbated by early development and the in utero environment. Pigs are a particularly interesting species to study for the investigation of this problem, as they typically have large litters that can vary substantially in sex ratio. We have previously identified that litter sex ratio is linked to behaviour and cognitive processing in later life, and may also be linked to health outcomes.

The overall aim of this project is to investigate the potential associations between factors relating to an individual’s in utero environment and its subsequent behaviour, production and performance parameters, using pigs as a model system. This aim will be met through the following objectives:
1. Quantification of the variation explained by genetics, sex ratio and parity on the production, performance and longevity of sows in the herd, including transgenerational effects.
2. Quantification of the variation explained by genetics, sex ratio and parity on the production and performance of males in the herd, including transgenerational effects.
3. Investigate differences in individual and group behaviour profiles over the life course for litters with different in utero sex ratios.
4. Model maternal stress in vitro to assess impacts on embryo development.

This interdisciplinary PhD will involve epidemiological/statistical modelling, recording and analysing behaviour and laboratory-based approaches to investigating developmental processes. You will be proactive and independent learner, with excellent organisational abilities and a keen interest to conduct interdisciplinary research. You will also enjoy working as part of a team, and contributing to research group activities on a regular basis.

You will be required to work on remote farm sites, handling and collecting data from pigs. As such, a valid UK driver’s license is desirable.

Funding Notes

To start on on before March 1st 2018. Applicants should have, or be expecting to receive, a 2.1 Hons degree in a relevant subject.

The funding covers fees at UK/EU level plus a stipend of £14,553 for 3.5 years. Please note that candidates must have been resident in the UK for the last 3 years to be eligible for full funding; candidates who have not been resident in the UK are eligible for a fees-only studentship.

Please apply online: https://studentservices.leeds.ac.uk/pls/banprod/bwskalog_uol.P_DispLoginNon

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 60.90

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