[Closes 31 Sep 2017] PhD Studentship in sex chromosome evolution in liverworts

Evolution of sex chromosomes is well-studied in organisms in which sex is expressed in the diploid phase. In such organisms the lack of recombination and the asymmetry in haploidy are assumed to lead to the progressive decay of the Y chromosome. In organisms in which sex is expressed in the haploid phase both U and V chromosomes are equally devoid of recombination and show no asymmetry in recombination suppression. This provides a unique opportunity to tease apart the effect of this two factors on the evolutionary trajectory of sex chromosomes. We are using a combination of classical genetic and comparative genomic approaches to test hypotheses concerning sex chromosome evolution in haploid dioecy using liverworts as a suitable model system (Marchantia polymorpha, Preissia quadrata and many more).

The goal of this project is to (1) develop a new methodology for capturing and sequencing complete sex chromosomes in plant model systems and (2) to reconstruct their evolutionary history both at the gene and structural levels. Therefore, this position involves molecular laboratory work to develop and optimize capturing and sequencing protocols; bioinformatics work to analyze and interpret the generated next- generation sequencing data; and evolutionary and functional genetic analysis of the evolution of sex chromosomes in the model plant Marchantia polymorpha and other liverwort species. This project is aimed at addressing one of the fundamental questions of evolutionary biology, the genetic makeup of sex chromosomes in a haploid plant model organism, via developing a new cutting-edge method for third-generation sequencing.

The student will work 18 months at University of Zurich, Switzerland. The other 18 months at BaseClear, The Netherlands. Peter Szovenyi, University of Zurich; Prof. Elena Conti, University of Zurich, Prof. Michael Lenhard, University of Potsdam; Dr. Walter Pirovano, Dr. Adalberto Costessi and Dr. Daniël Duijsings, BaseClear BV, The Netherlands will jointly supervise the successful candidate. 

This is project is conducted in the framework of PlantHUB. PlantHUB is funded by the H2020 PROGRAMME Marie Curie Actions – People, Initial Training Networks (ITN).