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Funded MSc Project “Sponge-microbe Symbioses” (Fall 2022)

Location: University of Alberta

Date Posted: 16-Mar-22

The Leys, Hill and Riesgo labs are recruiting a student for a funded Master of Science (MSc) in “Sponge:symbiont interactions”.  This part of a broader project under the Moore Aquatic Symbioses funded initiative “Creating transcriptomic resources from wild and cultured populations of host:symbiont associations”, which aims to explore the facultative nature of the sponge-symbiont partnership. 

About our research groups: We study the cell, physiology and developmental biology of sponges and their microbial symbionts, with the goal of developing tools to understand the evolution of fundamental aspects of animals such as tissues, polarity, nervous systems and coordination and mechanisms of development.

About graduate studies at UAlberta:  The student will be a member of the Department of Biological Sciences, within the College of Natural and Applied Sciences at the University of Alberta. UAlberta is located in Edmonton, Canada, about 3 hours from the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains. The University is one of the top five research universities in the country and provides an interdisciplinary community with outstanding technical and bioinformatic resources as well as a vibrant graduate community.

About the Project: The project involves developing tools for the emerging model system Ephydatia muelleri, a freshwater sponge. E. muelleri demonstrates host gene regulation in response to symbiosis. The symbionts can often be cultured outside of the host and the sponge can be grown with and without the symbionts. Wild populations harbor different communities and so laboratory culture allows study of host:symbiont integration and specialization at a cellular and genetic level, to identify selective forces that shape integration between hosts and symbionts. Experiments will involve manipulation of sponges and algal partners during development, infection, and feeding, and include training in RNAseq analysis to identify genes of interest, bioinformatics, and siRNA knockdown of genes.

This project is funded for up to 2.3 years, co-supervised by Dr. Sally Leys, University of Alberta and Dr. April Hill (Bates College, Maine, USA).

Starting date: September 2022.

How to apply: Applicants should have a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field by June 2022.

Submit your CV, a recent copy of your university transcripts, and a one-page statement of interest describing your motivation and curiosity in aquatic symbioses and your career objectives. In your statement, please highlight relevant skills in molecular biology, laboratory data collection, statistical analysis, programming/bioinformatics, working in a team environment and oral or written science communication.

Deadline for applications: May 15, 2022.

To apply please submit the above documents by email to:  sleys@ualberta.ca OR ahill5@bates.edu

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