How old are these worms?
The majority of animal phyla data back to the Cambrian explosion (ca. 540 MY ago). One of the most accurate ways to date biological events such as extinction and diversification is using the fossil record. While in vertebrates we have a relatively rich fossil record, most invertebrates do not fossilize easily, and this imperils the process of dating clades. However, for many clades a sparse fossil record exists, which in combination with molecular biological information can be used to date clades within the entire groups. These dates on the tree will then provide the framework to understand the evolution of these groups through time and at specific time points.
In this project, we suggest dating the Annelid tree of life using molecular sequences. You will download the sequence information for hundreds of genes for several tens of annelid species and reconstruct the relationships between these species. This is called a phylogenomic approach. Based on this tree you will use the sparse annelid fossil record to date each node in the tree. This will then be used to decipher and date diversification events within these worms and trace the evolutionary origin of novelties. Annelids comprise an astonishing diversity (including more than 22,000 species), occurring in many different terrestrial and marine environments.
What you will learn: You will learn tools and principles of molecular biology, zoology, macro-ecology and macro-evolution, which include, among others, metazoan evolution, comparative genomics, sequencing techniques, phylogenetic reconstruction and bioinformatics. All of these techniques are state-of-the-art techniques, which are relevant for both academic and non-academic positions. As part of the project you have the freedom to refine the project according to your interests and the project goals. Furthermore, we will provide you with teaching and training in computational biology (bioinformatics) to conduct the analyses.
What we offer: First and foremost, we offer a friendly and kind mentoring environment. We offer a membership in ForBio (the research school in biosystematics) where you will be able to take courses in several places in Norway. You will potentially be able to do international courses if fitting with the objectives. You will be able to participate in a national conference (Forbio meeting) and potentially in an international conference depending on funding. If you are interested, we will be able to discuss travel opportunities and a travelling period abroad, including a potential visit to Göttingen (Christoph Bleidorn).
What we expect from you: Commitment and dedication.
Outcomes: One (or more) scientific publications, conference communication.
Supervision and teaching: You will be supervised by Torsten Struck, José Cerca (both NHM Oslo), Christoph Bleidorn (University of Goettingen) and Dimitar Dimitrov (University of Bergen).
For further inquiries feel free to contact Torsten Struck or José Cerca.
Torsten Struck – email@example.com
José Cerca – firstname.lastname@example.org