PhD position: Comparative genomics of placenta development in livebearing fish

Wageningen University & Research
August 30 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

One of the fundamental questions in biology is: "how do complex traits evolve?" Our ability to discern how complex traits evolved is limited because their origin occurred in the distant past and details of their evolution have been lost due to the extinction of species with intermediate stages of complexity. In this project you aim to unravel the molecular pathways that underlie the evolution of the placenta in the livebearing fish family Poeciliidae (which includes the guppy). This family evolved placentas multiple times independently and contains closely-related species as well as populations within species that vary markedly in placental complexity. The presence of this variation in placental complexity at such shallow taxonomic levels is truly unparalleled in nature and offers a unique opportunity to study the evolution of complexity. In the project you will apply a comparative genomics approach, studying multiple independent evolutionary origins of the placenta aiming to uncover the commonalities in genome architecture that underlie its evolution. The project will involve whole genome sequencing of selected species across the phylogeny, as well as the de-novo assembly and annotation of the genomes of a number of key species to fill in taxonomic gaps. You will aim to infer the evolution of genes and the modification of developmental and metabolic pathways during the evolution of the placenta. The project is for a period of 4 years.

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess