PhD Candidate: Life history effects on epigenetic inheritance

In this project, we aim to investigate differences in DNA methylation dynamics between species with different life history traits.

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Arbeidsvoorwaarden

Standplaats:
Droevendaalsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Dienstverband:
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 uur
Opleidingsniveau:
WO

Functieomschrijving

DNA methylation variants can arise spontaneously, they can be under genetic control or they can be induced by environments. In plants, some DNA methylation variants are stable across many generations whereas other variants are very transient. A good understanding of the transgenerational dynamics of DNA methylation variants is essential to understand their impact on heritable traits and their effect on adaptation. Current insight in the transgenerational dynamics of DNA methylation is limited to very few plant species, but it is predicted that these dynamics are not constant between plant species. For instance, plant reproduction mode can have a large effect because asexual reproduction bypasses some of the epigenetic resetting mechanisms that normally occur during sexual reproduction. Adaptive differences in transgenerational stability may also differ between species with different life spans or from habitats of different environmental predictability.

In this project, we aim to investigate differences in DNA methylation dynamics between species with different life history traits. Specifically, we will characterize environmental effects and transgenerational stability of DNA methylation and compare these between sexually and asexually reproducing wild Fragaria (strawberry) species, and between different Brassicaceae species that differ in life history characteristics (for instance annual versus perennial) and habitat characteristics. DNA methylation screening tools will include reduced representation bisulfite sequencing and the project will interact closely with bioinformatics groups in the EpiDiverse network.

The project is part of the EU-funded Marie Sklodowska Curie European Training Network EpiDiverse (www.epidiverse.eu). This training network is currently advertising for 15 PhD students distributed over 12 European universities and research institutes. The EpiDiverse network - Epigenetic Diversity in Ecology - joins research groups from ecology, molecular (epi)genetics and bioinformatics to study epigenetic mechanisms and their adaptive relevance in natural plant populations. The network facilitates close collaborations between individual research projects and will provide comprehensive training in molecular, genomic, computational and ecological/evolutionary aspects of studying natural epigenetic variation.

Functie-eisen

We seek a bright, highly motivated, and enthusiastic plant biologist with a background in either molecular ecology or (epi)genetics and with a keen interest in working at the interface between these two disciplines. Candidates from other programs such as bioinformatics or computational biology, with a strong interest in ecology and evolution, are also invited to apply. Experience with NGS technologies and/or bioinformatics are important advantages. A high standard of spoken and written English is required, as are good quantitative and analytical capabilities, excellent interpersonal and communication skills, and the ability to work independently, as well as part of a team.

A university degree in a relevant field is required. Eligibility criteria of EU H2020 ITN programmes apply: candidates must be, at the time of recruitment by the host organisation, in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree. This is measured from the date when they obtained the degree which would formally entitle them to embark on a doctorate. Eligible candidates may be of any nationality but must not, at the time of recruitment, have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 last years immediately prior to the reference date.

Ideal candidates…

  • Have a keen interest in exploring the causes and consequences of epigenetic variation in natural systems;
  • Are enthusiastic about cooperation in a multidisciplinary team;
  • Should embrace intra-European mobility;
  • Have good communication skills;
  • Are fluent in English.

Conditions

The position is a temporary appointment, initially for 1 year and upon satisfactory performance to be prolonged for a maximum of 4 years total. The appointment includes an extensive package of fringe benefits. The PhD student will be hired on a full time equivalent regular working contract and the salary will include a mobility allowance.

Additional information

For more information see https://nioo.knaw.nl/en/vacancies-epidiverse or contact Koen Verhoeven k.verhoeven@nioo.knaw.nl of +31 (0)317 473624.

Bedrijfsomschrijving

The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is a top research institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). It is located in Wageningen and focuses on fundamental and strategic research on individual organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems. The PhD student position will be hosted at NIOO-KNAW’s Department of Terrestrial Ecology.

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