Ph.D. opportunity in plant evolutionary biology Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun, Poland

The Chair of Ecology and Environment Protection (http://www.keib.umk.pl/?lang=en) is recruiting PhD student interested in studying evolution of morphological traits in plants at various time scales. The goal of this project is to contribute towards an understanding of how genetic architecture (the structure of genotype to phenotype mapping) affects the evolution of quantitative traits. According to quantitative genetics theory, the evolution of phenotypic traits depends on the strength of selection and the amount of genetic variation. However, part of this variation maybe constrained by correlations with other traits that are under conflicting selective regimes. In consequence, the ability to respond to selection (evolvability) may be limited, even if a trait has high heritability. However, the extent to which genetic architecture limits phenotypic evolution remains an open question. Likewise, it is unknown whether it affects evolution at the short time scale and is easily overcome by selection, or if the genetic architecture is an important long-term determinant of the direction of evolution. In this project we aim to answer these questions using two plant species from the family Apiaceae, Daucus carota and Ferula communis, as a model system.

This project will be carried out in collaboration with Prof. Thomas Hansen (University of Oslo) and dr Krzysztof Bartoszek (Uppsala University).

Major tasks:

  • phylogenetic analysis of various taxa from the family Apiaceae based on RADseq data
  • establish a database of phenotypic traits (seedlings, fruits, inflorescences and flowers), life history strategies and geographic distributions for species from the family Apiaceae
  • estimate the rate of morphological trait evolution using phylogenetic comparative methods
  • help in developing the R package mvSLOUCH dedicated to analysis of multivariate Ornstein-Uhlenbeck models on phylogeny

The ideal candidate will have a background in molecular biology/population genetics/phylogenetics, as well as experience working with Linux and modern programming languages such as R. Previous experience in generating and analysis of next-generation sequencing data will be considered positively. A condition of the application is a Master degree (or equivalent) in biology or similar subjects.

The stipend for both positions is 3 000 PLN net monthly (app. 700 EURO) for three years. The living cost in Torun is low. For example, a room in a student house (inc. Wi-Fi, kitchen, heating, hot water) is app. 100-150 EURO monthly, loaf of bread 0.5 EURO, beer 0.5-0.7 EURO, beer in pub 1-2 EURO, dinner in restaurant 5-8 EURO.

Nicolaus Copernicus University is located close to the medieval center of Torun (http://www.visittorun.pl/) which is listed among UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage sites. Torun is a dynamic academic city and provides many opportunities for intellectual and cultural stimulation. The Vistula river runs through town and is ideal for the naturalists as many natural protected areas are located in its valley.

If you are interested, please send a CV, a short statement of your research interests (max. one page) and the contact details of at least one academic referee to Marcin Piwczynski
(piwczyn@umk.pl). Feel free to contact him by email for further information. Review of applicants will start in the first week of August 2017. The positions will stay open until filled.

Marcin Piwczynski
Chair of Ecology and Biogeography,
Faculty of Biology and Environment Protection, Nicolaus Copernicus University
Lwowska 1, 87-100 Torun
POLAND

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