Department of Biology, Faculty of Science at University of Copenhagen is offering a PhD scholarship on resistance evolution and persistence of antifungal susceptibility in fungus-farming termites, commencing 01.10.2019 or as soon as possible thereafter
Description of the scientific environment
The project will be based at the international research environment in the Social and Symbiotic Evolution Group at the Section for Ecology and Evolution within the Department of Biology. Research in the group cis highly interdisciplinary and combines the fields of evolutionary ecology, molecular microbiology, genomics, and metabolomics to address fundamental questions on how antagonistic (parasitic) and beneficial (mutualistic) microbial symbionts shape host ecology and evolution, how partners complement each other metabolically, and how host-symbiont associations defend themselves against exploitation.
The fellowship will be part of a five-year project titled Disease-free social life without antibiotic resistance, financed by an ERC Consolidator Grant. The application of antimicrobial compounds produced by hosts or defensive symbionts to counter the effects of diseases has been identified in a number of organisms, but despite extensive studies on their presence, we know essentially nothing about why these antimicrobials do not always trigger rampant evolution of resistance in target parasites. Fungus-farming termites have evolved a sophisticated agricultural symbiosis that pre-dates human farming by 30 million years which, in stark contrast to virtually any other organism, does not appear to suffer from specialised diseases. This suggests that the defensive compounds produced by the termite host, its fungal crop, and gut bacterial communities have remained effective for more than 30 million years.
This PhD will aim to use a series of complementary approaches to explore the propensity and causality behind the evolution of antimicrobial resistance in fungi challenging the fungus-farming termite symbiosis. This will involve microbial interaction assays, experimental evolution in vitro, comparative genomics on fungal strains prior and post resistance evolution and modelling of the parameters of importance for resistance to evolve or susceptibility to persist. The project may involve fieldwork in Comoe National Park, Ivory Coast . The successful applicant will have experience and interest in antimicrobial compounds, resistance evolution, fungal genomics. Experience with microbiological techniques, genomics and mathematic modelling is desirable.
Principal supervisor is Assoc. Prof. Michael Thomas-Poulsen , E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Direct Phone: +45 35330377.
The position is available for a 3-year period and your key tasks as a PhD student at SCIENCE are:
• To manage and carry through your research project
• Attend PhD courses
• Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis
• Teach and disseminate your research
• To stay at an external research institution for a few months, preferably abroad
• Work for the department
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