Competition-funded studentship: Investigating transposable element (TE) diversity in Corydoras catfishes

University of East Anglia

University of East Anglia – School of Environmental Sciences

Start Date: October 2016.

Supervisor: Dr Martin Taylor,

Scientific background.

The Corydoras catfishes are a diverse group of neotropical armoured catfishes comprising more than 200 species. They show great diversity in their colour patterns and mimic one another when they live together in the same river (Alexandrou et al 2011). They also show great diversity in their genome size (amount of DNA per cell), with the largest genomes ~6x bigger than the smallest. This project will investigate the role that transposable elements (TEs) play in (i) increasing genome size in the group and (ii) the evolutionary consequences of increased TE abundance in terms of phenotypic diversity among species.

Research methodology and training.

The project will use a range of techniques including next generation sequencing of DNA and RNA and quantitative PCR to elucidate the type, abundance and locations of TEs in different species. Thus, there will be a laboratory based component to the research along with a considerable bioinformatics analysis. There will also be possibilities for conducting fieldwork in South America with Brazilian collaborators. 

The applicant.

Applicants should have a Bachelors or Master’s degree in a biology related subject with a strong interest in evolutionary biology. Capacity to work with large and complex DNA sequence data sets is essential, but training will be provided.                        


This project has been shortlisted for funding by the EnvEast NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, comprising the Universities of East Anglia, Essex and Kent, with twenty other research partners.

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 17/18 February 2016.

Successful candidates who meet RCUK’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship. In most cases, UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award. In 2015/16, the stipend was £14,057.

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