2 PhD positions - Genomics and transcriptomics of migratory behavior

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön

Developmental and Evolutionary Biology & Genetics Behavioral Sciences


Type of Job

Young Researchers

2 PhD positions - Genomics and transcriptomics of migratory behavior

Job offer from November 27, 2018

The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology offers two PhD positions to investigating the molecular makeup and evolutionary/ecological genomics of migration in the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula). One position will be based at the Max Planck Insitute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön (MPRG Behavioural Genomics, Dr. M. Liedvogel), and one position will be based at the IBU, CvO University Oldenburg (Group of Prof. Dr. A. Nolte). Both PhD projects form the core of a newly established research project embedded within the SFB that aims to identify the genetic basis of traits that contribute to migratory behaviour in European robins. The PhD candidates and both PIs will collaborate and interact very closely. In a first step, the joint work will sequence, assemble and annotate a high quality reference genome for the European Robin that will serve as a backbone for both independent PhD projects. Both PhD projects will be highly interlinked but follow clearly defined project trajectories investigating independent aspects of the migratory phenotype. Both students will benefit from a highly integrative and interdisciplinary research environment and receive training in the field, molecular labwork and bioinformatics analyses. Further, the PhD students will be in an excellent position to contribute to collaborative research with other SFB members and develop independent research trajectories. We are looking for students with an interest in detailed genomics analyses, but who are also interested in understanding ecological processes as well as carrying out fieldwork. More information on this position can be obtained from Dr. M. Liedvogel () or Prof. Dr. A. Nolte ().

The European robin is an excellent model to study questions related to night migratory behavior and magnetoreception, where fundamental progress has been made using this species. Within the study area (North Western Germany) robins form a partial migratory population, whereas they are fully migratory in parts of Scandinavia or exclusively resident in southern Europe. With this project we set out to characterise the genetic basis of this variation and identify transcriptomic and physiological changes associated with the migratory phenotype. The SFB framework holds great potential to not only identify relevant genetic factors but further develop downstream experimental approaches together with other SFB members and disciplines once candidate genes have been identified.

One of the PhD projects will compare the genetic makeup of migratory versus resident populations of robins. The second PhD project will explore whether changes of gene expression in different tissue and/or during the course of the year reflect or predict migratory behaviour. Both PhD candidates will contribute to joint fieldwork with the goal to establish a well-characterised field population for in depth behavioural and genetic analyses in the wild.

Salary and conditions

The positions will be starting 1.1. 2019 for a duration of initially three years with a possibility for an extension to four years. Salary will be according to TVöD E13 (65%).
Both the The Max Planck Society and the University of Oldenburg are committed to also employing handicapped individuals and especially encourages them to apply. Both institutes seek to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.


Your application should include a letter of motivation, a detailed CV, a publication list, names and phone numbers of at least two personal references, university and high school certificates, and it must include a prioritized list of the positions you are interested in. Please send your application as a single pdf-file to Dr. Tina Schlüter, . All applications received before the 10th of December 2018 will be considered. We will start looking at the applications as soon as they are submitted and will consider further applications until the positions are filled.

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