University of Sheffield
The Soay sheep of Hirta, St Kilda are the focus of one of the longest-running studies of any wild mammal population in the world. Since 1985, all individuals born in the study area have been tagged and sampled and followed throughout their lifetimes. The project database now contains detailed life histories of over 10,000 sheep. Extensive genomic data are available for most of the sheep. The project involves researchers at several UK universities and research institutions, but the team in Sheffield are currently studying epigenetic effects, especially methylation, on phenotypic and genetic variation. We are sequencing the methylomes of around 1000 sheep, but this project will provide the opportunity to dramatically increase that dataset, and to study how the animals’ methylomes change longitudinally throughout their lifetimes.
· Development of an epigenetic ageing clock. Some sites in the genome become systematically more or less methylated as an individual ages, either chronologically or biologically. Our methylome sequencing will identify which sites do this best, but we are keen to develop new assays that will enable us to type our entire Soay sheep biobank specifically at these sites. Thus, the project could be tailored to involve quite a lot of R&D of new high-throughput methylation typing analyses. This would be used to address evolutionary questions within our study system, but would also lead to new laboratory methods that could be applied in other systems.
· Can we use epigenetic clocks to predict future survival of Soay sheep?
· Can we determine whether hard winters have a long-term effect on animals’ epigenetic clocks?
· Can we determine whether the environmental conditions an animal experiences in the uterus effect its epigenetics (and life history) after it is born?
Applicants should have a good honours or masters degree in a relevant biological discipline (such as biology, genetics or genomics). Experience in either laboratory work (especially molecular biology/molecular ecology) or data analysis would be helpful.
The appointee will receive training in genomics, bioinformatics data analysis, or field methods, as required by their project.
Funding and starting date
The studentship is fully funded and available for an immediate start. Note that candidates must have graduated and be available to start by 31 July 2023.
You should send a CV and cover letter describing which topic interests you and why you want to do a PhD in this area to [email protected] by by 16.00h on Friday 30 June 2023. Late applications will be considered if the position remains unfilled.
Fully funded project not in competition with others.
View or Apply
To help us track our recruitment effort, please indicate in your cover/motivation letter where (globalvacancies.org) you saw this job posting.