Prof Federica Di Palma, Earlham Institute
Dr Graham Etherington, Earlham Institute
Dr Wilfried Haerty, Earlham Institute
The European polecat is a medium-sized carnivore found across much of the United Kingdom. Once persecuted and found only in unmanaged forests of central Wales, it is now widespread across much of its former range. During this recent range-expansion, polecats came into contact with feral domestic ferrets and have hybridised with them. The extent of this hybridisation is unknown, but preliminary investigation suggests that it may be extensive. This project will look at the degree of hybridisation and subsequent genome introgression and asses the status of the European polecat in the UK.
The student will complete all aspects of the project. This will entail sample procurement through an already-established network of Mustelid researchers and collections. Depending on the interests and qualification of the candidate, there will also be scope for fieldwork to collect fresh samples. DNA extraction and genome sequencing will be done in the Earlham Institute (EI) genomics lab using the latest sequencing technologies. Whole genome analysis to examine genome introgression and population genetics will be carried out using the High-Performance Computer cluster at EI.
The student will interact with researchers from an extensive range of disciplines. They will have the opportunity to obtain skills in a variety of disciplines, including genomics, bioinformatics, and population genetics as well as a range of core skills provided by the doctoral training studentship. Opportunities may also arise to pursue other projects relevant to the students interests. The student will have the opportunity to travel to at least one international conference to present their research.
The ideal candidate will have a BSc in a biological science with an emphasis in conservation science, population genetics, or bioinformatics along with an interest in performing research using genomics methods such as DNA extraction, whole genome sequencing, genome analysis, etc. Alternatively, they may have a BSc in Bioinformatics with an interest in population genetics or conservation science.