Sexual detection: mechanisms underlying adaptive reproductive plasticity (CHAPMAN_U18DTP)

University of East Anglia
October 04 2017
Life Sciences, Biology
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

The PhD project offers a unique training opportunity to understand how individuals respond to their social and sexual environment. The student will gain research skills in cutting-edge genetic, genomic manipulations, bioinformatics and cellular microscopy. They will receive excellent training and career development from the thriving Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership and from the collaboration with Professor Clive Wilson at the University of Oxford.


An important part of being successful and competitive is to respond to the rapidly changing environments in which we often find ourselves. A familiar example is ‘speech accommodation', where individuals, often unintentionally, adopt the accent or speech patterns of those around them. Fruitfly males have adopted this principle and are able to show highly precise responses to their social and sexual environment. Following detection of conspecific rivals, males transfer more ejaculate proteins to females and sire more offspring. They are even able to alter the composition of the ejaculate that they transfer. Males can switch their ‘rivals responses' on and off with great accuracy and speed.

The overarching aim is to find out how males can do this. Our recent studies support the hypothesis that males can potentially use different mechanisms, to turn genes on / off, remove inhibitors of gene expression and change the way that ejaculate proteins are made and expelled. The student will test this and determine the temporal sequence of events. They will use phenotypic profiling to assess the effect of genetic manipulations of accessory glands, measure changes to gene and non-coding RNA expression using bioinformatics, and profile structural and signaling changes using high resolution microscopy.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 9th, 10th or 11th January 2018.

The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Funding notes

Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,553pa - 2017/8), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements. For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website:

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess

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