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Epigenetics, embryogenesis and plasticity in insects.

Project Description

All animals respond to their environment but some are able generate morphologically and behaviourally distinct individuals from the same genome in response to an environmental cue, a phenomenon known as phenotypic plasticity.

Phenotypic plasticity is observed in all animals but is best characterised in insects. A classic example of plasticity is seen in honeybees where reproductive queens and sterile workers are generated from the same genome in response to nutrition early in life. Previous research has shown DNA methylation regulates this process, yet we don’t understand the role of DNA methylation in embryogenesis or in other examples of phenotypic plasticity.

Pea aphids, which are an important crop pest, also exhibit plasticity; in summer aphids reproduce asexually, but as winter approaches females detect this and alter the development of their embryos giving rise to females that reproduce sexually.

In this project we will use a variety of cutting edge techniques to investigate the role of DNA methylation in normal embryogenesis in the honeybee and pea aphid and assess whether DNA methylation is a conserved mechanism underpinning plasticity.

Funding Notes

White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology
4 year fully-funded programme of integrated research and skills training, starting Oct 2019:
• Research Council Stipend
• UK/EU Tuition Fees
• Conference allowance
• Research Costs

At least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent. We welcome students with backgrounds in biological, chemical or physical sciences, or mathematical backgrounds with an interest in biological questions.
EU candidates require 3 years of UK residency in order to receive full studentship

Not all projects advertised will be funded; the DTP will appoint a limited number of candidates via a competitive process.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 60.90

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