PhD Research Project: Interrogating the great tit (Parus major) genome for evidence of gene flow in

Location
United Kingdom
Posted
Nov 28, 2016
Closes
Jan 23, 2017
Organization Type
University and College
Hours
Full Time
Details

Being able to accurately quantify the pattern of gene flow between populations is essential for understanding the process of population divergence, local adaptation, and ultimately speciation. As part of the ongoing population/ecological genomic studies of great tits in our labs, this PhD project intends to investigate the genomes of great tit samples collected from an area in the Far East where they coexist with a closely related species, the Japanese tit (Parus minor), and apparent hybrids can be found. However, very little is known about the evolutionary relationships between the European great tits, the hybrid zone population, and the Japanese tits, and it is unclear what role gene flow has played in shaping their evolution. To address these questions, the student will assist in testing the new methods for detecting gene flow that are being developed in our labs, and will apply them, and other well-established inference methods, to whole-genome DNA sequence data collected from these populations. The project is multi-disciplinary, combining methodological developments and analysis of real data. It is suitable for applicants who have backgrounds and training in physics, maths or computer science or those with advanced numerical skills from a biology background (e.g. through masters-level training).

Kai Zeng (KZ) is a population geneticist with a strong interest in using large-scale DNA sequence data to understand how fundamental forces such as natural selection and demographic changes drive evolution. With a background in statistics and computer science, a significant part of KZ’s research has been the development of models and statistical inference procedures for analysing data. More related to this project, KZ’s lab was heavily involved in the Great Tit Genome Project, and has been conducting population genomic analyses using whole-genome data acquired from great tit samples collected from Europe. KZ will be mainly responsible for leading the methodological part of this PhD project.

Jon Slate (JS) is an evolutionary geneticist with a particular interest in using molecular tools to understand the genetic architecture and microevolution of Mendelian and quantitative traits in natural vertebrate populations. JS has been working on great tits for many years, was a key contributor to the Great Tit Genome Project, and has been leading the Great Tit HapMap Project. In this PhD project, JS will be responsible for providing biological insights into to the modelling and the interpretation of results.

How to apply: Go to http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/apply/applying after reading the information contained on that page click the link to the Postgraduate online application form

Funding Notes

This project will be funded by the Leverhulme Trust Centre for Advanced Biological Modelling