15 PhD Positions in EU Horizon 2020 MSCA-ITN project MoSaiQC: Modular Systems for advanced integrated Quantum Clocks
Ongeveer 11 uur geleden - Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA) - Amsterdam
In temporally heterogeneous environments females can adjust investments in offspring in order to enhance their fitness. This form of transgenerational …
In temporally heterogeneous environments females can adjust investments in offspring in order to enhance their fitness. This form of transgenerational phenotypic plasticity is referred to as 'maternal effects'. If a female's current environment reliably predicts the future conditions of her progeny, then maternal effects can be adaptive. Conversely, if there is a mismatch between maternal and offspring environment, then maternal effects may be maladaptive. Theory predicts that the way that females can transmit information to their offspring will differ between species, depending on their mode of reproduction. In this project we will study how the mechanisms that underlie maternal effects change in livebearing animal lineages during the evolution of a placenta.
The placenta is an intimate maternal-fetal connection that plays a crucial role in the regulation of embryo development. The evolution of such an intimate connection implies that (stressful) conditions experienced by the mother during pregnancy can more easily be transmitted to the embryo via the placenta. We will study the different mechanisms at play by which adverse environments experienced by the mother (e.g. nutritive stress or the perception of predation risk) are transmitted to their developing offspring, by comparing live-bearing fishes with and without placentas. We will test (1) how the mechanisms that underlie these maternal effects change during the evolution of the placenta and (2) how exposure to similar adversities differently impacts offspring fitness and physical and mental development, depending on the level of placentation.
We will study this using the live-bearing fish family Poeciliidae (which includes well known pet fish, such as the guppy). The placenta evolved multiple times independently in the Poeciliidae. This family contains closely-related species, as well as populations within species, that vary markedly in the presence and complexity of placentas. This variation in placental complexity at such low taxonomic levels offers a unique opportunity to study how maternal effects evolve in association with the evolution of the placenta. The applicant may use a combination of fieldwork, microcosm experiments, life history evolution, physical and physiological performance tests, cognitive trials, neuro- & placental anatomy and comparative genomics & transcriptomics.
The PhD student will work at the Experimental Zoology group of Wageningen University. This PhD project is part of a larger research program at Wageningen University led by Dr. Pollux that focuses on the causes, mechanisms and consequences of placenta evolution. The project will take place in close collaboration with Dr. Aniko Korosi (Associate Professor Neuroscience, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, Center for Neuroscience, University of Amsterdam).
For this interdisciplinary project, we look for an enthusiastic, creative, result-driven person with an MSc degree in biology or related field. Applicants should have a genuine interest in evolutionary biology - in particular the relationship between development and evolution. An affinity with neuroscience and/or bioinformatics is highly valued. Research experience in the relevant domains (MSc thesis) is required and excellent communication skills and proficiency in English (both oral and written) are a prerequisite.