PHD Project

October 10, 2017

Ancient DNA for palaeoecology and freshwater conservation

Ancient DNA for palaeoecology and freshwater conservation

We require a versatile student who is comfortable working with “mud and molecules” for a project that aims to develop and apply the use of ancient DNA in lake sediments (sedDNA). Traces of DNA preserved in lake sediments can potentially be used to reconstruct the composition of biological communities over timespans of hundreds to thousands of years. The application of sedDNA for environmental reconstruction and freshwater conservation has, to date, been limited by knowledge gaps on how well sedimentary DNA reflects contemporary communities (including bacteria, protists, plants, invertebrates and vertebrates) and a lack of understanding of preservation. This studentship aims to fill these knowledge gaps, and provide training in a rapidly expanding area of environmental science with high future employability prospects. The training programme will include UK lake sampling and surveys to compare contemporary aquatic biota with sedDNA and we thus require a student who is enthusiastic about fieldwork and associated logistics with interests in freshwater biology techniques, including microscopy and flow cytometry to identify and quantify aquatic biota. A key component of the project will be DNA metabarcoding, and so familiarity with molecular analyses and a strong interest in laboratory analytical work is required. Training in palaeolimnology (sediment core analysis) will be provided. The student will be based in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham supervised by Prof Suzanne McGowan and the project will include a 4 month secondment to CEH Wallingford to work with the Co-supervisor Dr Dan Read and training trips to Lancaster University to work with co-supervisor Prof Phil Barker. The funding package for this studentship will include fieldwork costs, secondment relocation costs, laboratory consumables and contributions to conference attendance. The School of Geography is an Athena SWAN silver award holder and welcomes
applicants from all backgrounds.

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Biology, Natural Sciences, Geography or Environmental Science. Previous experience and/ or training in molecular analysis, lake ecology and palaeolimnology would be considered an advantage and competent laboratory skills are essential. Confidence in boats and the ability to drive are also desirable.

For further information about the studentship please e mail Suzanne McGowan or Daniel Read