Evolutionary genetics of transposable element invasions


This opportunity will remain open until the position has been filled.

Most animal and plant genomes are riddled with parasitic DNA. This DNA comes from transposable elements, ‘jumping’ genes that can spread not only from parent to offspring, but which also make new copies of themselves within a host. As a result, they spread faster than normal genes, and are highly evolutionarily successful, with, for example, approximately half of the human genome derived from transposable elements. These transposable elements have an underappreciated impact on organisms. They are a major cause of mutations, the fuel of both evolutionary innovation and the cause of genetic diseases. In fact, three of the most famous mutations in the fields of evolution and genetics—the dark form of the peppered moth, the wrinkly form of the garden pea, and the white-eyed form of the fruit fly— are all due to transposable elements.
Despite the importance of the host-transposable element relationship in both evolution and genetics, there are still major gaps in our knowledge of how they evolve and persist. This PhD studentship is embedded within a larger project that aims to fill these knowledge gaps, using Drosophila as a model. Within this project, you will have considerable scope to develop interests in genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, and evolutionary biology. You will also have opportunities to receive formal training in genomics and bioinformatics through structured courses, skills highly in demand in academia and industry. Finally, you will benefit from a vibrant research environment in the newly-formed Institute of Infection, Ecology and Veterinary Science that is ideally placed to understand how animals respond to environmental and evolutionary challenges, including climate change and infectious disease.

The project is suited to a student with at least a good B.Sc. Upper Second in Biological or Life Sciences, and a strong interest in any or all of evolution, genetics, genomics and bioinformatics.


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

The project is open to both European/UK and International students, pending a successful Tier 4 visa application.

The PhD stipend is FULLY FUNDED and applicants are encouraged to contact the Principal Supervisor Dr Andrea Betancourt on A.Betancourt@liverpool.ac.uk to discuss their application and the project.

A fee bursary may be available for well qualified and motivated applicants.

Details of costs can be found on the University website: View Website