Professor Tracey Chapman, University of East Anglia, School of Biology
Professor David Richardson, University of East Anglia, School of Biology
Scientific background the wider context; why the project is important and timely
Mimetic relationships – where two or more species share colour patterns to reduce attacks by predators are some of the most powerful demonstrations of natural selection. The best-known examples can be found in Heliconius butterflies, millipedes and poison arrow frogs. A less well-known, but nevertheless intriguing system can be found in the Corydoras catfishes, where multiple communities of mimics can be found coexisting across South America. Using whole genome resequencing, this project will investigate the genetic basis of colour pattern traits involved in mimicry and search for signatures of selection both within and among mimicry rings to gain a better understanding of how mimicry has evolved.
Research methodology; what precisely will the student do? Where? How?
The project will use existing chromosome level whole genome sequences with additional whole genome resequencing of Corydoradinae species involved in different mimicry rings, coupled with cutting edge bioinformatic analyses (e.g. detecting positive selection and selective sweeps) to identify genes and genomic regions associated with colour pattern mimicry.
Training; what opportunities will the student have? What skills will they gain?
The applicant will receive training in molecular laboratory techniques such as DNA extraction, polymerase chain reaction, Next generation sequencing, bioinformatic methods for comparative genome analysis and detection of selection within and among species. There will also be training in advanced statistical methods and plotting in R. There is the potential for conducting fieldwork in South America, but this is not essential for the project.
The applicant should have a degree in biology, genetics or similar and strong background/interest in genetics and or evolutionary biology. An aptitude for bioinformatic analyses and experience with a scripting language would be an advantage although not essential.