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Postdoctoral fellow in evolutionary genetics

Published: 2018-09-20

Project description: The proposed project will elucidate the evolutionary significance of GC-rich sequences in birds with a focus on “hidden genes” and G-quadruplexes. Some regions of avian genomes are characterized by a high content of G and C nucleotides (GC-rich regions), particularly on the smallest chromosomes (microchromosomes. These regions likely have unique characteristics, such as high recombination rate, high gene density, and a capability of forming non-standard DNA topologies, called G-quadruplexes (G4s). However, virtually nothing is known about the evolutionary significance of these GC-rich regions in birds because technological limitations previously prevented effective sequencing and assembly of nucleotide content-biased sequences.

In this project, we will harness the recent availability of third-generation genome assemblies without a bias against GC-rich regions, mathematical models and statistical tools to investigate when GC-rich sequences evolved in avian genomes, how they are conserved across birds, and what the biological function of GC-rich sequences and, in particular, G4s might be in vertebrates. We will take advantage of novel bioinformatic methods to identify G-quadruplexes through their polymerization speed and error profiles in long-read sequencing data. Then we will test for neutral processes vs. natural selection for GC content in specific lineages and genomic regions. This line of research lies at the interface between evolutionary biology, comparative genomics, molecular biology, and bioinformatics.

Duties: Analysis of next-generation sequencing data; comparative genomics of GC content evolution in “hidden genes” and repetitive elements, especially on microchromosomes.

Qualifications required: PhD in evolutionary biology, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, or another relevant field. To be eligible to apply you must have a PhD completed within three years of the application deadline. If you received your PhD earlier but special circumstances exist you are also eligible to apply. We are looking for a highly motivated and competitive early career scientist with strong skills within the subject area. Basic experience in analyses of next-generation sequencing data is necessary, as is a strong background in comparative genomics. Candidates must be good at communicating in spoken as well as written English. Emphasis will also be placed on personal skills such as communication and collaboration skills, ability to work independently, scientific maturity and creativity.

Qualifications desired: Programming skills (e.g., Perl, Python, or R) are desirable.

Position: This is a fulltime temporary position for 24 months. Individual salaries applied.

Access:  2018-12-01 or as otherwise agreed.

Instructions for the application: The application should include 1) A letter of intent describing yourself, your research background and interests, and why you would be suitable for the position (max. 2 pages). 2) Your CV and publication list. 3) The names and contact information to at least two reference persons (e-mail address and phone no.). 4) A copy of your PhD certificate, 5) Any unpublished work that you would like to present in support of your application. The application should be written in English.

For further information about the position please contact: Assistant professor Alexander Suh,

You are welcome to submit your application no later than 2018-10-15. UFV-PA 2018/2939