- Bumblebees are essential pollinators for natural and managed ecosystems.
- They experience a worldwide decline, even more severe than many other pollinator species. Different hypotheses aim to explain the observed declines in bee populations, e.g. the impact of pathogen infections pesticides use, and loss of food resources.
- These factors and their interactions with each other, influences pollinator populations on varying scales and with different impact.
- Although bumblebee decline is clearly a multi-factorial phenomenon, recently, also climate change has risen as an ongoing factor which has the potential to cause a next wave of bee declines.
- Understanding of the acclimation ability of bumblebees, and knowledge of the underlying genes, will be important in predicting the impact of climate change in bumblebee decline, and more in general, the ecological and evolutionary consequences of human-accelerated environmental change. In this doctoral research project we aim to investigate the adaptive capacity of a bee to be able to cope with climatic stress.
- Recent developments in genomic techniques, such as next generation sequencing (NGS) and whole genome scans will allow the identification of specific genomic regions which experienced natural selection. Restriction-site-associated DNA sequencing (RAD-Seq) has already been successfully used in studies of several plants species, marine invertebrates, marine and freshwater fish, and small mammals, to search for potentially adaptive genetic variation and has been tested in bumblebees. Recently, the bumblebee genome of B. terrestris and B. impatiens has been unraveled which will help with a further identification of underlying genes.
- The candidate should apply for a FWO scholarship.
Profile of the candidate
- Master’s degree in a relevant field (Biology or Bioengineering Sciences or equivalent)
- Interested in research and having the intention to obtain a PhD degree
- Eager to acquire new competences and knowledge
- Knowledge of bioinformatics is a surplus
- Ability to work in an interdisciplinary and collaborative environment
- Fluent in Dutch and English
- Ability to write clear scientific reports and disseminate results
- Strong interpersonal and written communication skills