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PhD Studentship: Every sperm is sacred - or maybe not? (IMMLER_U19DTP)

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Norwich
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 9th October 2018
Closes: 26th November 2018

Location University of East Anglia, Norwich
Start date: 1/10/2019
Closing date: 26/11/2018
No. of positions available: 1
Hours: Full-time
Contract: Temporary
Supervisor Simone Immler

Project description Despite the fact that sexual reproduction is the most common form of reproduction among eukaryotes, we still know surprisingly little about many related aspects. One of the key open question is: Which sperm ultimately fertilises the egg out of the millions of sperm in an ejaculate? Is this just a result of random processes or are fertilising sperm somehow "better"? Sperm within an ejaculate vary substantially not only in their phenotypes and performance but also in their genotypes as a result of the re-shuffling of the genome during meiosis. A common believe holds that this genetic variation among sperm within an ejaculate plays no role in determining how the sperm looks like and performs. However, research in our lab has challenged this long-standing idea and provided evidence that the genome of a sperm may in fact determine its phenotype, and hence benefit the offspring in the next generation. We found that selection for longer-lived sperm within the ejaculate of zebrafish males results in offspring that survive better, are more fertile and live longer than their direct siblings sired by shorter lived sperm. In addition, we showed that longer-lived sperm differ genetically from their shorter-lived siblings, which suggests that the genome carried by each sperm contributes to its performance. Given these striking results, we now need to identify the underlying genes and test, whether similar processes occur in humans - this is the aim of this PhD. The PhD student will perform assays in zebrafish and humans and collect samples for single-cell sequencing. In addition, they will be analysing existing sequencing datasets from zebrafish and humans. The results from this PhD project will be highly relevant to animal breeding and human fertility.

Person Specification UK 2:1 & English Language (6.5 overall, 6 in each section)

Funding notes For funding eligibility guidance, please visit our website: Full Studentships cover a stipend (UKRI rate: £14,777pa – 2018/9), 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. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements.  

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 8th, 9th or 10th January 2019. 

The NRP DTP 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. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second-class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. 

 For further information and to apply, please visit our website: 

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