The Role of Gametic Selection in Maintaining Genetic Variation in a Population


The Role of Gametic Selection in Maintaining Genetic Variation in a Population


Project Description


Dr Simone Immler (School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia) contact me

Professor Alexei Maklakov (School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia)

Professor Cock van Oosterhout (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)

Project Background

Understanding the processes that maintain genetic variation is fundamental in evolutionary biology and important in conservation. Recent findings in our lab showed that sperm in the ejaculate of a male vary in their performance and that some fertile sperm sire fitter offspring than others. Furthermore, we demonstrated that these sperm phenotypes are a characteristic of the underlying haploid genetic variation within the gametes themselves. Given these exciting findings it is now our aim to establish how selection on sperm traits and genomes within an ejaculate may contribute to the generation and maintenance of genetic variation within populations.


The successful applicant will expand on our recent findings, studying how possible trade-offs between the  haploid gametes and the diploid organisms can contribute to the maintenance of genetic variation. Zebrafish are perhaps the best vertebrate model system to examine this question at both a proximate (functional) and fundamental (evolutionary) level.  These studies will be carried out in a brand new, state of the art zebrafish facility on the UEA campus and using molecular and bioinformatics tools giving the opportunity to gain experience in both wet and dry labs.

Person Specification

Apart from participating in the excellent ARIES DTP core training programme, you will acquire training and hands-on experience in Experimental Design, Next Generation Sequencing and Bioinformatics, all great prerequisites for future employment. You will take part in lab and departmental seminars and journal clubs and participate in national and international meetings and conferences to present yourself and your results.


  • 1. Silva, WTAF, Sáez-Espinosa, P, Torijo-Boix, S, Romero, A, Devaux, C, Durieux, M, Gómez-Torres, MJ, Immler, S. 2019. The effects of male social environment on sperm phenotype and genome integrity. J Evol Biol 32: 535-544.
  • 2. Immler, S. Haploid selection in “diploid” organisms. 2019. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 50: 219-236
  • 3. Alavioon, G, Cabrera Garcia, A, LeChatelier, M, Maklakov, AA & Immler, S. 2019. Selection for longer-lived sperm within ejaculate reduces reproductive ageing in offspring. Evolution Letters 3: 198-206.
  • 4. Immler, S, & Otto, SP. 2018. The evolutionary consequences of selection at the haploid gametic stage. Am Nat 192: 241-249.
  • 5. Alavioon, G, Hotzy, C, Nakhro, K, Rudolf, S, Scofield, D, Zajitschek, S, Maklakov, AA & Immler, S. 2017. Haploid selection within a single ejaculate increases offspring fitness. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 114: 8053-8058.

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP and will start on 1st October 2021. The closing date for applications is 23:59 on 12th January 2021.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship, which covers fees, stipend (£15,285 p.a. for 2020-21) and research funding. For the first time in 2021/22 international applicants (EU and non-EU) will be eligible for fully-funded UKRI studentships. Please note ARIES funding does not cover visa costs (including immigration health surcharge) or other additional costs associated with relocation to the UK.
  • ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and ARIES provides £2,500 to every student for access to external training, travel and conferences. Excellent applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited experience in environmental sciences may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take advanced-level courses in the subject area.
  • ARIES is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion in all areas of its operation. We encourage enquiries and applications from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation and transgender status. Academic qualifications are considered alongside significant relevant non-academic experience.
  • All ARIES studentships may be undertaken on a part-time or full-time basis, visa requirements notwithstanding
  • For further information, please contact the supervisor. To apply for this Studentship click on the “Apply now” link below.

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