PhD Candidates Untangling The Evolution of A Balanced Lethal System

Applicants are invited to apply for a PhD position in environmental sciences at Leiden University. The funding allows successful candidate to work for 3 years. Applications should be submitted as soon as possible.

The Institute of Biology Leiden at Leiden University and Naturalis Biodiversity Center are looking for

Project description

Balanced lethal systems represent an evolutionary enigma as they cut reproductive output in half. Different lethal alleles on two distinct forms of a chromosome compensate each other. Hence, both chromosome forms, including their linked lethal alleles, are required for survival. The most illustrious balanced lethal system is chromosome 1 syndrome, observed in the genus Triturus (the marbled and crested newts). All adults invariably possess two forms of chromosome 1, 1A and 1B. Yet, according to the rules of Mendelian inheritance, 50% of offspring produced is homozygous (possessing two copies of either 1A or 1B). These homozygotes die roughly halfway normal embryological development - half of Triturus embryos never hatch! All we currently know about chromosome 1 syndrome derives from classical karyological studies. In two PhD projects, the candidates will determine the genomic basis of chromosome 1 syndrome. The topics that will be addressed are 1) Ancestral reconstruction of Triturus' chromosome 1 at the point of origin of the balanced lethal system and distillation of the lethal factors; and 2) Comparative genomics of the balanced lethal system in Triturus with related but unaffected salamander species. Key responsibilities

As PhD candidate you will be conducting and publishing scientific research in consultation with your doctoral thesis supervisor. Your key tasks include: Our Faculty and Institute

The Faculty of Science of the University of Leiden is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are driven by curiosity to expand fundamental knowledge and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future. The research carried out at the Faculty is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organised in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor's and twelve master's programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,200 staff and almost 4,200 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden's Bio Science Park, one of Europe's biggest science parks, where university and business life come together. The Institute of Biology (IBL) is positioned in the Faculty of Sciences. The core business of IBL is to perform top quality innovative fundamental and strategic research that will lead to scientific progress, contribute to solutions for societal challenges, and generate industrial opportunities. The Institute is organised in three multidisciplinary clusters: Animal Sciences & Health, Plant Sciences & Natural Products and Microbial Biotechnology & Health. Presently, over 120 FTE (including postdocs and PhDs) are employed at IBL.

Naturalis Biodiversity Center is the Dutch national research institute and infrastructure on biodiversity and systematics. Employing over 100 researchers (including postdocs and PhD's), the institute provides an innovative and integrated research and BA/MA program towards its core expertise comprising a whole array of disciplines, ranging from taxonomy, systematics, evolution, ethnobiology, biogeography, bioinformatics, and mineralogy. The infrastructure also provides the world's fifth largest natural-history collection with more than 42 million specimens (also digitally accessible), and state of the art laboratories. These facilities include molecular, morphological/imaging, culture and geological facilities and geographic information systems and bioinformatics capacities. In addition Naturalis is one of the leading natural history museums worldwide, receiving over 400.000 visitors a year.

Terms and conditions

You will be employed at the Institute of Biology Leiden of Leiden University. We offer a one year term position with the possibility of an extension of 3 years based on need, funding and performance. The salary range is from 2.325 to 2.972 gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), as well as training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at:


Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups. Information

For more information about the IBL and Naturalis, please visit and, Enquiries about the research project can be made to Ben Wielstra, e-mail: Applications

To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to a motivation letter, curriculum vitae and the names and phone numbers of two referees, in a single pdf file, no later than June 21st 2019.


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