Postgraduate Research Scholarship
The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) seeks an enthusiastic bioinformatician to use novel algorithms to investigate the genetic mechanisms underlying speciation and invasiveness across the globally-devastating whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) species complex. The B. tabaci species complex can cause severe crop losses and is a threat to global food security, as well as currently being one of world’s worst invasive alien species. Over 35 genetic groups (termed ‘cryptic species’) of B. tabaci are proposed, and despite being morphologically identical, these species have evolved from each other millions of years ago.
Professor Susan Seal and colleagues at the NRI have generated extensive genome and transcriptome next generation sequence (NGS) datasets from a range of populations, as part of a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Analyses of these shows that B. tabaci genomes contain numerous genetic novelties, including long introns, gene duplications and expanded gene families that have roles in detoxification, and hence plant host range and insecticide resistance in this species complex. This project will use bioinformatics investigate these genomic features focusing on those that have shaped the evolution of this species complex and have led to global invasiveness of particular populations. Proficiency in Perl or Python and R is essential, as is experience working on Linux/Unix batch systems.
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