EDIT: January 2015 - Position filled! -----------------------------------------------
Three PhD positions are open to study the genomics of quantitative traits and chromosome instability in the wheat pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici.
Project Summary Zymoseptoria tritici (syn Mycosphaerella graminicola) is a wheat pathogen of global importance that has become a model for understanding the evolutionary ecology of plant pathogenic fungi. Using a QTL mapping approach based on high throughput phenotyping of ~700 offspring coupled with a next generation sequencing technology (RAD-seq), we elucidated the genetic architecture of several quantitative traits that are relevant for both agriculture and fungal biology, including virulence, fungicide resistance, intrinsic growth rate, melanization, sporulation and thermal adaptation. We also identified the candidate genes that may contribute to these quantitative traits. Based on this preliminary data, we are looking for three PhDs to work in the following projects: The aim of the first PhD project is to functionally analyze several of the candidate genes identified as likely contributors to the quantitative traits, using techniques of molecular biology. The aim of the second PhD project is to extend the QTL analyses of our existing crosses to include several new traits that were not assayed in the original project, with an emphasis on growth responses to various environmental stresses, including extreme temperatures, pH, salt concentrations and oxidative stress. The third PhD project follows up on the serendipitous discovery of a novel chromosome that emerged as a result of a fusion of sister chromatids in one of the parents used for QTL mapping (PLoS Genetics 9:e1003567). This aims to elucidate the contribution of breakage-fusion-bridge (BFB) cycles to the origins and evolutionary trajectory of accessory chromosomes in Z. tritici.
Qualifications Applicants must have a master’s degree in bioinformatics, biology, microbiology or a similar qualification. Previous experience in molecular biology, population genetics or evolutionary biology will offer an advantage. We seek individuals who possess good collaboration skills, can take their own initiative, and work independently. Research fields covered by these projects include: Plant pathology, Microbiology, Ecology, Evolutionary biology, Quantitative genetics, Genomics, Molecular biology
The Plant Pathology Group in the ETH Our major areas of research are population genetics and genomics, evolutionary biology, evolutionary ecology, experimental evolution, phylogeography and molecular biology. Our primary experimental organisms are the plant pathogenic fungi Mycosphaerella graminicola (aka Zymoseptoria tritici), Phaeosphaeria nodorum (aka Stagonospora nodorum), and Rhynchosporium commune (aka Rhynchosporium secalis). Genome sequences are available for all three fungi, including a finished genome for Z. tritici. We are conducting several large-scale projects oriented around QTL mapping, RNA-seq and population genomics, and small-scale projects oriented around the molecular characterization of fungal virulence factors. In addition, we maintain global collections containing 1000s of isolates for all three fungi; The ETH Zurich and the Institute of Integrative Biology possess advanced infrastructure including the Genetic Diversity Center (http://www.gdc.ethz.ch/) and the Functional Genomics Center Zurich (http://www.fgcz.ethz.ch/). Zurich is consistently rated as one of the most livable cities in the world. The Plant Pathology Group (http://www.path.ethz.ch/) is currently composed of ~25 people from 11 countries and English is the working language of the group. But knowledge of German is useful outside of the university.
How to apply Applications consisting of a CV, statement of research interests, and names and contact information for 3 references should be prepared as a single pdf file and sent by email before 1 December 2014 to Prof. Bruce A. McDonald at email@example.com. The positions are available immediately and will remain open until suitable candidates have been identified.
Note Although the initial deadline has passed, we are still looking for good candidates. Any inquiries about the project on accessory chromosomes can also be directly addressed to me (daniel.croll-AT-usys.ethz.ch).