PhD Studentship: Evolution of Novel Phenotypes through Regulatory Small RNAs (COEN_J18DTP)

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Location: John Innes Centre, Norwich

Start Date: 1st October 2018

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Professor Enrico Coen 

Project description:
Plants and animals display remarkable diversity in the range of colour patterns, from the spots and stripes on butterfly wings to striking pollinator guides on a flower. How does such diversity arise?  In a recent breakthrough, we have found that the generation of regulatory small RNAs from inverted duplications plays a key role in the evolution of novel flower colour patterns. These findings, obtained through analysis of wild relatives of the garden snapdragon, Antirrhinum majus, raise several questions: How do inverted duplications generating regulatory small RNAs originate? How do they coevolve with their targets? How general this mechanism is for other colour patterns and traits?  The aim of this project is to address these questions through a combination of genetic, molecular, genomic and bioinformatic approaches. The student will obtain genome sequences from a range of wild plant species (related to snapdragons) with diverse colour patterns and analyse the genes controlling flower colour to determine the likely contribution of regulatory small RNAs to phenotypic diversity. These findings will be followed up by inter-crossing closely related species and analysing F2s to determine how the colour genes segregate and influence the expression of small RNAs and their targets. Taken together, the project should provide fresh insights into the origin and role of inverted duplications and regulatory small RNAs in the evolution of phenotypic diversity. 

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 9th, 10th or 11th January 2018.

The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website: www.biodtp.norwichresearchpark.ac.uk

Person specification: Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

Funding notes:
Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,553pa – 2017/8), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.

Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/web/FILES/Guidelines/studentship_eligibility.pdf

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

South East England