PhD Studentship: Experimental evolution of reproductive isolation (CHAPMAN_UBIO17EE)

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Start Date: October 2017

Supervisor: Prof. Tracey Chapman

Project description:  


The PhD project offers a unique training opportunity to apply novel genetic manipulations and bioinformatics analysis to reveal key mechanisms underlying the evolution of reproductive isolation (RI).


The PhD project represents an exciting prospect to investigate the mechanisms underlying Reproductive Isolation (RI) in a global agricultural pest (the medfly, Ceratitis capitata). The student will utilise a unique, long-term evolution experiment in which we have described nascent RI. In this novel project, they will probe the underlying mechanisms involved and test the effect of silencing candidate loci identified from existing transcriptomic data and from new genome scans. They will also profile the expression changes in coding and non-coding transcripts underlying early divergence, to gain much needed insight into the trajectory of early adaptation. The student will benefit significantly from the training they gain from the thriving ENVEast Doctoral Training Partnership. They will also gain highly sought after, transferrable research skills training in genetic manipulations and novel population genetics and bioinformatics analyses of high throughput coding and gene expression data.


  1. Identifying genes involved in maintaining RI.

Double stranded (ds)RNA gene silencing of candidate loci and tests of altered mating patterns.

      2. Profiling the nature of early divergence

(i) Analysis of existing transcriptome data to construct gene regulatory networks (GRNs).

(ii) Tracking the genomic and transcriptomic profiles of early divergence.


In addition to excellent training in advanced and generic PhD training skills provided by the EnvEast NERC DTP, the student will gain specific research skills in practical genetic / genomic manipulations and in bioinformatics – all of which are in high demand. We have a highly collaborative research ethos and well-equipped insect and molecular labs, spacious CT rooms, wash up, media preparation and dedicated server. The student will attend an EU-wide student-focussed conference, an international conference and national meetings. The student will conduct all the research work and analysis and will increasingly direct the research programme as they progress.

Person specification: This is a challenging and interdisciplinary project and would suit an ambitious student with a good Honours degree in biological sciences / genetics with a willingness to learn programming.

Funding notes: This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with twenty other research partners.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 14/15 February 2017.

Successful candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award. In 2016/17, the stipend was £14,296.

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