PhD Research Project: Quantitative 3D morphogenesis of the developing zebrafish ear

United Kingdom
Oct 10, 2016
Dec 02, 2016
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time

This project will explore how the complex shape of the vertebrate inner ear—the organ of hearing and balance—is generated in the embryo. Within this sensory organ, the semicircular canals have a highly ordered three-dimensional arrangement, which is critical for their function. The canals consist of narrow ducts or tubes linked to ampullae, rounded chambers that house the exquisitely sensitive sensory hair cells. Formation of the ducts, ampullae and sensory tissue in the embryo requires co-ordinated changes in cell shape to generate thin or thickened epithelium, and regions of high epithelial curvature. This project aims to describe and understand these processes in the zebrafish embryo.

The successful student will use confocal and light-sheet microscopy to image the developing ear. Through analysis of mutant zebrafish lines, the project will test the role of different genes in generating the correct cell and tissue rearrangements that lead to the correct morphology of the ear. Transgenic fluorescent markers are available to label cell membranes and nuclei.
The student will primarily be based in the Whitfield group (developmental biology and biological imaging), but will also have the opportunity to learn how to select and apply computational techniques to analyse their imaging data, by working with the Frangi group. We are seeking an enthusiastic student who wishes to expand their knowledge of developmental biology, and who is also keen to learn new skills in computational approaches to analyse imaging data.

Funding Notes

This project is fully funded by a 4-year White Rose DTP studentship in Mechanistic Biology from the BBSRC.

Eligibility: UK/EU citizens only. EU citizens must have lived in the UK for at least 3 years to be eligible for full support.

*All applicants should ensure that both references are uploaded onto their application as a decision will be unable to be made without this information*.


For informal enquiries about this project, please contact Dr Tanya Whitfield (

Please see the Whitfield and Frangi group websites for more information:

Information about the BBSRC White Rose DTP scheme can be found at:"

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