Projects

Recruitment to the NRPDTP and iCASE programmes are now open. The deadline for applications is the 27th November 2017.

02 / 10 / 2017

Sexual detection: mechanisms underlying adaptive reproductive plasticity (CHAPMAN_U18DTP)

how to apply

The PhD project offers a unique training opportunity to understand how individuals respond to their social and sexual environment. The student will gain research skills in cutting-edge genetic, genomic manipulations, bioinformatics and cellular microscopy. They will receive excellent training and career development from the thriving Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership and from the collaboration with Professor Clive Wilson at the University of Oxford.

An important part of being successful and competitive is to respond to the rapidly changing environments in which we often find ourselves. A familiar example is 'speech accommodation', where individuals, often unintentionally, adopt the accent or speech patterns of those around them. Fruitfly males have adopted this principle and are able to show highly precise responses to their social and sexual environment. Following detection of conspecific rivals, males transfer more ejaculate proteins to females and sire more offspring. They are even able to alter the composition of the ejaculate that they transfer. Males can switch their 'rivals responses' on and off with great accuracy and speed.

The overarching aim is to find out how males can do this. Our recent studies support the hypothesis that males can potentially use different mechanisms, to turn genes on / off, remove inhibitors of gene expression and change the way that ejaculate proteins are made and expelled. The student will test this and determine the temporal sequence of events. They will use phenotypic profiling to assess the effect of genetic manipulations of accessory glands, measure changes to gene and non-coding RNA expression using bioinformatics, and profile structural and signaling changes using high resolution microscopy.