PhD Studentship: The Interaction between Butterfly Wing Size, Shape and Patterning

Oxford Brookes University - Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

3 Year Full Time studentship

Eligibility: Home UK/EU applicants who must be permanently resident in UK/EU

Closing date: 12 January 2018 (midnight UK time)

Start Date: September 2018

Value p.a.: Bursary of approximately £14500 for Academic Year 2017/18 and fees.

Main supervisor: Dr Casper Johannes Breuker (

Project Title: The interaction between butterfly wing size, shape and patterning

Butterfly wing size, shape and (colour) patterns are tremendously diverse. Not only between species, but even within species. Within species diversity has been found to be associated with (local) adaptation as well as developmental plasticity, in response to a range of environmental factors including: host plant quality, climatic and seasonal variability, and pathogen infection. Thus, butterfly wings are a popular model system in the field of ecological evolutionary developmental biology. The Speckled Wood butterfly, Pararge aegeria occurs from North Africa to northern Scandinavia, and across this range it is not only morphologically variable, but also displays variability in its response to environmental conditions during development. Using CRISPR/Cas9 we have recently characterised the role of WntA in patterning the wings of P. aegeria (Mazo-Vargas et al, PNAS, 2017), and the role of yellow in its pigmentation. In this project, we will use CRISPR/Cas9, in-situ hybridisations, transcriptomics and morphometrics (for size and shape analyses), to investigate the regulation of wing growth and vein positioning, including in response to a range of environmental factors (in particular drought, temperature and pathogen exposure). Furthermore, we aim to elucidate the possible interaction between wing growth and patterning, focusing on a number of candidate genes.

Name of Director of Studies (DoS): Dr Casper J. Breuker

Name of 2nd Supervisor: Dr Saad Arif     

Names(s) of Additional Supervisors: Dr Melanie Gibbs (CEH Wallingford)

As part of their Studentship, any successful applicant will be required to undertake up to 6 hours undergraduate teaching/demonstrating a week during semesters on undergraduate practicals without further remuneration. Training will be given.

Contact: Dr Casper J. Breuker (

Requirements: Applicants should be of the highest quality and capable of submitting a PhD thesis within 3 years. Applicants should have a first class or upper second class (minimum 2.1) honours degree from a Higher Education Institution in the UK or an acceptable equivalent qualification. EU Applicants must have an IELTS Academic test certificate with an overall minimum score of 7.0 and no score below 6.0 issued since 12th January 2016 by an approved test centre. We will consider alternative acceptable evidence of English Language ability.

Application procedure: Applications only to

Download application form: (

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