PhD position Environmental predictability and the evolution of parental effects

The PhD position is situated within the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), in a collaboration between the groups Theoretical Research in Evolutionary Life Sciences (Prof Ido Pen) and Evolutionary Genetics, Development & Behaviour (Profs ...

8 dagen geleden


Broerstraat, Groningen, Groningen
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2840 per maand


The PhD position is situated within the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), in a collaboration between the groups Theoretical Research in Evolutionary Life Sciences (Prof Ido Pen) and Evolutionary Genetics, Development & Behaviour (Profs Jean-Christophe Billeter and Ton Groothuis).

We are looking for a PhD candidate for the following research project:
Environmental predictability and the evolution of parental effects: integrating ecology, phylogeny, modelling and genetics

To predict how species will adapt in a rapidly changing world requires evolutionary models based on knowledge of developmental plasticity to various forms of environmental fluctuations. A hotly debated pathway of such plasticity is based on the transfer of non-genetic information from parents to offspring – known as parental effects. According to recent theoretical models, if parental and offspring environments are sufficiently alike, then the parental phenotype can be used as a source of information for offspring to adaptively match their environment. Thus, parental effects may play a crucial role in adaptation to changing environments. We will use a comparative approach to test this prediction in multiple Drosophila species, sampled globally from populations with different levels of similarity in ambient temperature between parental and offspring environments. We recently demonstrated adaptive parental effects in Drosophila melanogaster: the eggs of parents who reproduced at low or high temperatures survived better to adulthood when parental and offspring thermal conditions matched (both low or both high). Using similar experiments, we will quantify how parental effects affect adaptation in the sampled Drosophila populations. To test the theory, we will develop quantitative evolutionary models, taking into account observed population-specific demography and temperature fluctuations, and predict the relative importance of parental effects. Using genes discovered in our ongoing experimental evolution study on parental effects in D. melanogaster, we will compare sequence and structure of candidate genes underlying parental effects from the sampled populations. By thus integrating theory, ecology and genetics we will critically advance our understanding of transgenerational adaptive plasticity and quantify its importance for adaptation in a world with increasingly rapid changes in temperature.


We are looking for an ambitious candidate who preferably meets the following requirements:
• a master degree (preferably a research-oriented master) in biology
• affinity with both experimental work and mathematical/computer modelling
• preferentially experience in working with Drosophila and molecular genetics
• good communicative skills and independence in research in a practice setting, in close collaboration with others
• good oral and written command of the English language suited for scientific publications and conference presentations.
As a PhD candidate, you should be committed to conducting independent and original scientific research, to report on this research in international peer-reviewed publications, presentations, and disseminating knowledge in non-academic contexts. The result should be a cumulative PhD.


The University of Groningen offers the PhD candidate a salary of € 2,222 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 2,840 gross per month in the final year (based on a full-time employment of 1.0 fte). An appointment of 0.8 fte (80%) is possible. The position requires residence in Groningen, 38 hours per week research and research training, and must yield a PhD dissertation. The candidate will first be appointed for 1 year. After nine months, an assessment will take place of the candidate's results and the progress of the project to decide whether the employment will be continued. Duration: 4 years.

Starting date: 1 January 2018, or sooner.

Interviews are planned on 16 October 2017.

Please send your complete application (in English) as a single PDF file until 1 October 23.59 hours / before 2 October 2017 Dutch local time, by means of the application form (click on ‘Apply’ below on the advertisement on the university website. Please upload your application as ‘letter of motivation’ and include the vacancy number at the start of your application.

Applicants are requested to submit:
1. A cover letter in English introducing yourself, describing your motivation to conduct scientific research
2. A full CV in English demonstrating academic excellence and a copy of your passport
3. A certified copy or scan of your master diploma (or equivalent) and academic record
4. Names and contact details of two academic references.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

Prof. I. Pen
+31 642633512,

Prof. J.C. Billeter
+31 50 3637851,


Faculty of Science and Engineering Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 30,000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, the University of Groningen is truly an international place of knowledge.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering harbours a kaleidoscope of disciplines and research strengths. Our programmes in research and education range from nanomaterials and biomachinery to astronomy, from mathematics to pharmacy, from neurosciences to computer science, and from molecular and evolutionary biology to marine biology. Our researchers pursue fundamental key questions while collaborating with partners from industry, the medical world and other realms of society. Frontline research groups explore new fields such as synthetic biology and sustainable energy use.


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