Tobias Kaiser

Please refer to  or contact Tobias for further information on the project:

1 midge, 2 clocks and 400 genomes

The life cycle of the marine midge Clunio marinus (Diptera: Chironomidae) is adapted to the rhythm of the tides. A circalunar clock makes sure that adult midges emerge only at full moon and new moon, when tides are lowest. A circadian clock ensures that they only emerge during the time of low tide. As the tides differ dramatically along the coastline, Clunio populations show various local adaptations in their circadian and circalunar clocks.

We use evolutionary, genetic and molecular approaches to study these timing adaptations and thereby aim to identify the completely unknown molecular basis of circalunar clocks. In the course of our work, we have gathered a large set of phenotypic data, linkage maps, quantitative trait loci (QTL), several gene expression datasets and a set of more than 400 individual Clunio genomes from all over Europe.

We are looking for a PhD student with a keen interest in bioinformatics or genomics to mine this dataset for genes and evolutionary processes involved in shaping Clunio’s timing adaptations. Beyond that, our very rich dataset offers plenty of opportunities for the PhD student to develop and pursue own projects in evolutionary genomics. Possible questions include:

  • How do selection and genetic linkage shape genomic patterns of local adaptation?
  • How do different levels of gene flow impact on the process of local adaptation?
  • Does local adaptation rely on few loci of large effect or many loci of small effect?
  • Does local adaptation rely on regulatory changes or changes in the protein?
  • Do certain gene regulatory networks or pathways adapt more readily than others?

Participation in laboratory work and fieldwork is welcome, but not required.

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