Epigenetic mechanisms in insect post-embryonic development

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Belgium

August 20, 2021

Description

Epigenetic mechanisms in insect post-embryonic development

(ref. BAP-2021-615)

Last modification : Saturday, July 17, 2021

Our research group at KU Leuven studies molecular genetic and epigenetic mechanisms during post-embryonic life in insects. Some more details about our research can be viewed via the website: https:// bio.kuleuven.be/df/jv.

Website unit

Project

The advent of high-throughput sequencing methods drastically changed our view on how genomes are organized, and on how they can influence development of an animal's phenotype. Genomic DNA and chromatin can undergo enzymatic modifications. Moreover, large parts of metazoan genomes are not coding for proteins, which does not necessarily imply that these regions are merely 'junk DNA'. They may still give rise to a wide diversity of transcripts with particular regulatory functions. Depending on environmental conditions, different epigenetic changes may fine-tune various aspects of development, behavior, physiology or immunity.

Insects are the most speciose class of animals on our planet. While many insect species exhibit a remarkable phenotypic plasticity during their development, some species also display an even more fascinating polyphenism, i.e. one genome can be expressed in two, or more, very divergent ways depending on the environmental conditions. One aim of our lab is to elucidate molecular and epigenetic changes associated with desert locust phase polyphenism. The desert locust is a textbook example of a species with an extreme form of phenotypic plasticity, since it can occur in a relatively harmless 'solitary phase' or in a very dangerous, swarm-forming 'gregarious phase'. Swarms of this locust species can indeed be devastating for the agricultural production in many countries (altogether covering ca. 20% of the Earth's land surface) and, therefore, this pest species is continuously monitored by the FAO (UN's Food and Agriculture Organization). Other aims of our lab are to study the role of (neuro)hormones and of small non-coding RNA pathways during insect post-embryonic development and to explore/discover novel strategies for controlling major pest species.

Based on our scientific progress and on the specific background/interests of the selected candidate, a detailed research plan will be worked out. Candidates with an excellent CV will also be further encouraged to consider their future options and to apply for prestigious individual research funding.

Profile

You have -or will soon obtain- a PhD degree in biochemistry/biotechnology, biological sciences, bioscience engineering, or equivalent. You have good knowledge of animal biology, including entomology. You have excellent knowledge of molecular, cellular and viral biology. A strong interest in, as well as a good knowledge of, statistics and bioinformatics is an advantage too. You are eager to learn, and have a lively interest in scientific research. You can work very well in team, as well as independently. You have a positive and loyal work attitude; you are flexible and dynamic according to the requirements of your research; you are meticulous, involved and take responsibilities very much to heart. You have good communication skills, both orally and in writing (particularly in English). You have an eye for detail, a sense of initiative and can proactively think and act. You are efficient and stress resistant, and able to respect deadlines laid down. You will follow the rules of good lab practice, research data management and scientific integrity.

Offer

Full-time fixed-term (1y) postdoctoral position, which may be prolonged on a yearly basis in case of positive evaluations.

Interested?

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Jozef Vanden Broeck: tel.: +32 16 32 39 78; email: jozef.vandenbroeck@kuleuven.be

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.

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