Two new PhD projects in the Davison lab

We are once again seeking enthusiastic and well-qualified students to apply for two PhD positions, both funded by the BBSRC DTP, on 1) the genomic basis of chiral variation in mirror-image snails and 2) developing germline transgenesis methods in snails. Deadline 11th December 2018. Apply here.

Both UK and EU students eligible, closing date Tue 11th Dec 2018, fully funded for four years. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further info.

1) How are snails able to routinely make mirror-image shells and bodies, unlike any other animal group? In previous work, we identified a gene in pond snails which determines variation in asymmetry, but the mutation means that only about half of embryos develop to hatching. In other snails, especially those in Japan and Hawaii, mirror image versions are common and equally fit. In this project, the student will use genomic methods (RAD-seq and/or nanopore) to identify the genes associated with chiral variation in these other snails, with a long term aim of understanding why such variation is not possible in other animals, including ourselves.

Project would suit student into some combination of genomics/evolution/development/bioinformatics. Field work in Japan/Hawaii a likely option, if desired.

2) Slugs as pests destroy and spoil crop plants and cost the farming industry at least £100M a year in the UK, incurring the widespread use of toxic molluscicides. Slugs and snails are also vectors of important pathogens (e.g. schistosomes). Unfortunately, very little is known about the genetics and molecular biology of gastropod molluscs, and as a consequence, we are unable to bring modern methods to bear upon the control of problem species. Therefore, the specific aim of this PhD is to develop a straightforward and robust method to deliver transgenic vector constructs into the snail germline, with a long term view of using the method to devise methods for control of crop pests and snail vectors of disease. Taking advantage of progress made in the rotation, the student will formulate, develop and them optimise methods for accessing and then culturing snail embryos. He/she will then work with others towards the goal of stable transgenesis of snails.

The project would suit student into molecular biology and also possibly micromanipulation.

Both projects will involve an initial training/rotation in three diverse labs. Students then select one for their PhD project.

Previous BBSRC-funded students of the lab are co-authors on these papers in Current Biology and Evolution Letters.

Science communication is also an important part of our work e.g. interning with the BBC, and "Jeremy the snail."