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PhD Studentship: The Sex Factor: Why do Males and Females Age Differently and have Different Lifespans? (MAKLAKOV_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

Start date: 1/10/2019

Supervisor Alexei Maklakov

Project description

Males and females in many different species, including humans, have different longevities and rates of ageing. Despite the decades of research, we still do not know why this is the case. The leading hypothesis maintains the sexes resolve the fundamental trade-off between survival and reproduction differently. Because females produce large expensive gametes (eggs), their fitness often is limited by the amount of resources they can accumulate and, therefore, females are predicted to invest into somatic maintenance to ensure longer reproductive lifespan. On the contrary, males produce numerous cheap gametes (sperm) and are often limited only by the number of mates. Therefore, selection favours "live fast, die young" strategy in males resulting in high reproductive performance in early life followed by faster ageing relative to females. Because males and females share most of their genes, such sex-specific life-histories are likely defined by sex-specific gene expression. In this project, we will use the key model organism in genetics, Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes, to investigate how sex-specific gene expression in major molecular signalling pathways that control life-histories affects sexual maturation, mating behaviour, ageing, longevity and reproduction. You will use the power of this system to modify the targeted gene expression in young and old animals of both sexes using RNA interference and assay physiological senescence, reproductive ageing and longevity. You will test the ultimate prediction that males invest less than females in somatic maintenance when they perceive reproductive opportunities. This PhD is an opportunity to investigate one of the big questions in biology - why do we age - from the unique angle of sexual dimorphism in life-history.

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: £14,777 pa – 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. Please contact for further questions about the project.

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

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