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PhD Antigen Presentation in Songbirds at Lund University

Lund University is delighted to offer a PhD position in environmental sciences. The funds for this position are available for four years. Potential candidates should apply before October 16, 2018.

The Faculty of Science conducts research and education within Biology, Astronomy, Physics, Geosciences, Chemistry, Mathematics and Environmental Sciences. The Faculty is organized into nine departments, gathered in the northern campus area. The Faculty has approximately 1500 students, 330 PhD students and 700 employees.

Project description – Antigen presentation in songbirds; differences in gene expression between different MHC genes and in relation to infection.

All vertebrates have an adaptive immune system and here the MHC proteins play a key role in presenting antigens for recognition and elimination by T-cells, hence MHC proteins are essential in initiating every adaptive immune response. Songbirds have many more MHC gene copies than most other birds. Moreover, resident birds in the tropics, that are exposed to particularly high selection from pathogens, have particularly many MHC gene copies. The question is if all these MHC gene copies are used in the adaptive immune system.

The main goal of this project is to investigate relationships between diseases, gene expression of particular MHC gene copies and the immune system in wild birds. The main target genes will be the MHC genes, with great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) and house sparrows (Passer domesticus) as model species. The focal study populations are the long-term study of the long distance migratory great reed warblers at lake Kvismaren SSE rebro, in southern Central Sweden, and (ii) a data set of resident house sparrows that have been collected in order to study selection in the immune system in time and space along a latitudinal gradient that varies in the selection from pathogens.The project involves field work with great reed warblers in lake Kvismaren, Nrke, which is part of an ongoing long-term population study. The PhD candidate is also expected to carry out a substantial amount of laboratory work, particularly gene expression analyses of MHC (qPCR, Sanger sequencing and HTS), and also analyses of e.g. avian malaria infections.

Master degree in biology, with specializations in animal ecology, evolutionary biology or immunology.

High motivation and a sincere interest in this particular project are crucial.

It is highly desired that the applicant has considerable experience of analysing DNA data and performing malaria parasite analyses.

Laboratory experience from molecular techniques, qPCR / PCR and HTS / Sanger sequencing is very important.

Analytic skills and experience from using Geneious and R is desirable, an interest in analysing life history and fitness data in combination with DNA data are requested.

It is a requirement that spoken and written English is excellent.

Experience from fieldwork with birds is important (catching with mist nets, handling birds and taking blood samples).

Eligibility

Students with basic eligibility for third-cycle studies are those who- have completed a second-cycle degree- have completed courses of at least 240 credits, of which at least 60 credits are from second-cycle courses, or- have acquired largely equivalent knowledge in some other way, in Sweden or abroad.

The employment of doctoral students is regulated in the Swedish Code of Statues 1998: 80. Only those who are or have been admitted to PhD-studies may be appointed to doctoral studentships. When an appointment to a doctoral studentship is made, the ability of the student to benefit from PhD-studies shall primarily be taken into account. In addition to devoting themselves to their studies, those appointed to doctoral studentships may be required to work with educational tasks, research and administration, in accordance with specific regulations in the ordinance.

Type of employment

Limit of tenure, four years according to HF 5 kap 7.

Summary:

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