Adaptation to a changing environment at the gametic level (IMMLER_UBIO18EE)

University of East Anglia
October 11 2017
Life Sciences, Biology
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

This PhD project offers the opportunity to study a topical question related to climate change in combination with cutting edge modern sequencing technology.


Environmental temperature and its fluctuations are of topical interest due to global climate change, and understanding how organisms will be able to adapt to rapid variation in temperature is a key question that needs answers. Ectotherms comprise the majority of metazoan life, and are particularly sensitive to fluctuation in temperature as their metabolic rate is largely dependent on external thermal conditions. In addition, many ectotherms are external fertilisers where gametes (sperm and eggs) are directly exposed to environmental conditions, including water temperature, before they fertilise. Temperature has an established impact on sperm function, as it directly affects sperm metabolic rate and hence motility, performance and fertility. It is therefore an important step to understand the impact of an increase in water temperature on reproductive processes at the gametic level.


You will use the zebrafish Danio rerio to identify the role of selection on sperm performance within an ejaculate for adaptation to changing temperature. You will combine experimental work on sperm function and fertilisation dynamics, with cutting-edge genomic and transcriptomic technologies, to understand the efficiency of selection at the gametic level in adapting to temperature and how variation among sperm within an ejaculate contributes to adaptive processes.

Secondary supervisors: Professor Matthew Gage (UEA), Dr Iain Macaulay (Earlham Institute).


You will acquire training and experience in Next Generation Sequencing technology and Bioinformatics at the highest level, all great prerequisites for future employment. You will be using the newly established zebrafish facilities at UEA and the high-end single-cell facility at Earlham Institute and combine experimental work with fish with next-generation sequencing, a very powerful approach to address scientific questions. You will be part of a research group and a larger highly collegial research community and have the opportunity to participate in national and international meetings and conferences to present yourself and your results. This is an ambitious project and will suit a highly motivated and enthusiastic student with a great interest to learn new skills.


This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with over twenty other research partners. Undertaking a PhD with the EnvEast DTP will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 12/13 February 2018.

Successful candidates who meet RCUK's eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - in 2017/18, the stipend is £14,553. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. For non-UK EU-resident applicants NERC funding can be used to cover fees, RTSG and training costs, but not any part of the stipend. Individual institutes may, however, elect to provide a stipend from their own resources.

EnvEast welcomes applicants from quantitative disciplines who may have limited background in environmental sciences. Excellent candidates will be considered for an award of an additional 3-month stipend to take appropriate advanced-level courses in the subject area.

For further information, please visit

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess

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