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Research Associate

University of Sheffield - Department of Animal & Plant Sciences (School of Biosciences)

Location: Sheffield
Salary: £32,344
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 2nd September 2021
Closes: 29th September 2021
Job Ref: UOS029903

As a Research Associate, you will join the NERC-funded project “The genetic basis of convergence across evolutionary time”. This project seeks to understand how the genetics of convergent evolution differs with differing evolutionary timescales. We will determine whether the genetic mechanism of convergence (collateral evolution, parallel evolution and divergent genetic mechanisms) depends on the relatedness of the species, the effect size of the loci involved and/or conservation of the genetic pathways controlling the phenotype. In South America there are mimicry rings in which many defended species converge on near identical colour patterns. This project will investigate the genetic basis of convergent mimicry in wing patterns among 18 species of butterflies and moths, which include the well-studied Heliconius butterflies. This is a unique system in the Lepidoptera in which we know that some recently diverged lineages have converged in defensive coloration by collateral evolution, whereas other clades have achieved similar phenotypes despite diverging over 100 million years ago. This provides an ideal model system in which to explore the likelihood of different mechanisms of convergence among lineages at a range of evolutionary timescales.

You will lead the bioinformatic analysis of population genomic and gene expression data sets to identify genes controlling within-species colour-pattern variation in multiple species of ithomiine butterflies and Chetone day-flying moths. You will use genome-wide association mapping to find loci controlling colour pattern differences in admixed populations of each species, from samples that have already been collected and sequenced. This will be complemented with analysis of differential gene expression. The tissues for this will be collected by a second postdoctoral RA, employed at the University of York, who will work in Peru and Ecuador, collecting samples, breeding stocks of these species and assessing gene expression in situ. You will lead on the bioinformatic analysis of differential gene expression between colour-pattern forms and wing regions.

Applicants must have a PhD in bioinformatics or population genomics (or equivalent experience), along with previous experience of analysing genomic data to understand phenotypic data. Experience of genome assembly and annotation will be of benefit.

We’re one of the best not-for-profit organisations to work for in the UK. The University’s Total Reward Package includes a competitive salary, a generous Pension Scheme and annual leave entitlement, as well as access to a range of learning and development courses to support your personal and professional development.

We build teams of people from different heritages and lifestyles from across the world, whose talent and contributions complement each other to greatest effect. We believe diversity in all its forms delivers greater impact through research, teaching and student experience.

To find out what makes the University of Sheffield a remarkable place to work, watch this short film:, and follow @sheffielduni and @ShefUniJobs on Twitter for more information.

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