Projects

We are currently advertising DTP and CASE studentships for October 2019 start. The deadline for applications is the 26th November 2018.

27 / 09 / 2018

The sex factor: why do males and females age differently and have different lifespans? (MAKLAKOV_U19DTP)

how to apply

Males and females in many different species, including humans, have different longevities and rates of ageing. Despite the decades of research, we still do not know why this is the case. The leading hypothesis maintains the sexes resolve the fundamental trade-off between survival and reproduction differently. Because females produce large expensive gametes (eggs), their fitness often is limited by the amount of resources they can accumulate and, therefore, females are predicted to invest into somatic maintenance to ensure longer reproductive lifespan. On the contrary, males produce numerous cheap gametes (sperm) and are often limited only by the number of mates. Therefore, selection favours "live fast, die young" strategy in males resulting in high reproductive performance in early life followed by faster ageing relative to females. Because males and females share most of their genes, such sex-specific life-histories are likely defined by sex-specific gene expression. In this project, we will use the key model organism in genetics, Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes, to investigate how sex-specific gene expression in major molecular signalling pathways that control life-histories affects sexual maturation, mating behaviour, ageing, longevity and reproduction. You will use the power of this system to modify the targeted gene expression in young and old animals of both sexes using RNA interference and assay physiological senescence, reproductive ageing and longevity. You will test the ultimate prediction that males invest less than females in somatic maintenance when they perceive reproductive opportunities. This PhD is an opportunity to investigate one of the big questions in biology - why do we age - from the unique angle of sexual dimorphism in life-history.

Please contact A.Maklakov@uea.ac.uk for further questions about the project.