PhD in Genomics – Norwegian University of Science and Technology – March 2024

A highly qualified, driven, and ambitious PhD candidate is needed by the NTNU University Museum for a project that focuses on the genomes of Arctic alien plants. The goal of the study is to identify the genetic basis of the target alien plant species’ adaptability to the Arctic climate and how that adaptation relates to their invasiveness.

The likelihood of the introduction and establishment of alien plant species in the Arctic is increased by a warmer climate, altered soil characteristics, and increased human activity. Wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris) is a well-established and assimilated alien species in high-Arctic Svalbard and other Arctic locations. Several introductions from various genetic origins, an enemy release advantage connected to plant defence substances, and changes in adaptive features are some of the theories explaining its success. Utilising field collections and herbarium resources, the PhD research will create genomic datasets and experimental evidence to investigate connections between the genetic foundation of successful establishment and possible invasiveness in the high-Arctic.

Although the project’s main focus will be on wintercress, supplementary research on parallel systems could be created. The initiative will contribute significantly to the current multidisciplinary study on Arctic greening by adding an evolutionary component.

Project Duties

The PhD applicant will work in an international multidisciplinary team in the Arctic Field, Herbarium, Green House Experimental, DNA Lab, and Bioinformatics.

  • Put together a temporal and geographic sampling of fresh specimens and herbarium.
  • Generate NGS libraries and sequencing data by utilising third-party services and clean-lab facilities.
  • Oversee and control outside providers to produce reference genomes of the highest calibre appropriate for population genomic research.
  • To unravel the evolutionary history of parallel Arctic invasions, analyse sequencing data in conjunction with complementary experimental evidence, genomic resources, and available genome analysis. This will include the phylogeography of established populations, the genetic architecture of adaptation to the Arctic environment, and the role of various chemotypes with the enemy release hypothesis.
  • Analyses of historical data to evaluate bottlenecks and the allele frequency cycling that occurs after introduction.
  • Share findings with pertinent stakeholders, the public, and the scientific community through publications.

Requirements

  1. Master’s degree in biology (or equivalent) with specialization in molecular ecology, evolutionary biology, biosystematics, or closely related fields.
  2. Experience at the master’s level with analyses of NGS data to answer evolutionary questions.
  3. Strong interest in pursuing research in invasion biology using multidisciplinary approaches (population genomics, phylogeography, adaptation genomics, and ecology).
  4. Education corresponds to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, with 120 credits obtained at the master’s level.
  5. Average grade from the master’s degree program, or equivalent education, equal to B or better compared with NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis.
  6. Excellent written and oral English language skills.

For more information and application, visit the official website


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