Small RNAs in insect antiviral immunity
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.
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. Large parts of metazoan genomes are not coding for
proteins. However, this does not necessarily imply that these regions are
merely 'junk DNA', as they may still give rise to a diversity of transcript
categories with particular regulatory functions. Currently, several classes of
small non-coding RNAs are known to interfere with gene expression at different
levels, as well as to be implicated in a multitude of biological processes.
The discovery of this additional layer of regulatory complexity initiated a
new scientific challenge, i.e. to better understand the mechanisms by which
small non-coding transcripts exert important regulatory roles.
In insects, the most speciose class of animals on our planet, several small
RNA mediated pathways play crucial roles in antiviral immunity and development
via a process that is generally designated as RNA interference (RNAi). In
this project, our research group aims to unravel their role in antiviral
immunity of Helicoverpa armigera, a major lepidopteran pest species that
causes important economic losses in agriculture. Improved knowledge of
antiviral mechanisms may also contribute to discovery of novel strategies to
combat important agricultural pests.
Based on our scientific progress and on the specific background/interests of
the selected candidate, a detailed PhD research plan will be worked out.
You have -or will soon obtain- a MSc 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
You have an eye for detail, a sense of initiative and can proactively think
You are efficient and stress resistant, and able to respect deadlines laid
You will follow the rules of good lab practice, research data management and
Full-time fixed-term (1y) PhD fellowship, which will be prolonged on a
yearly basis in case of positive evaluations (maximal total duration of a PhD
fellowship is 4 years).
For more information please contact Prof. dr. Jozef Vanden Broeck: tel.: +32
16 32 39 78; email: email@example.com
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