Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory http:// biology.bangor.ac.uk/research/mefgl Job Description Post Title POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCH MOLECULAR ECOLOGY Faculty/Section BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES Reporting to DR SIMON CREER Duration 6 MONTHS Grade 7 OFFICER IN Summary of the Post Six-month NERC-funded postdoctoral research position in the Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory (http://biology.bangor.ac.uk/research/mefgl/), School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University. The successful candidate will investigate links between 454 benthic meiofaunal biodiversity with morphological taxonomy, macroinvertebrate community processes, sediment granulometry and environmental factors. Main Duties Perform single organismal (nematodes) and bulk community DNA extractions (following Ludox flotation of target communities) and polymerase chain reaction amplifications of benthic estuarine meiofaunal communities and manage outsourcing of chain termination and 454 sequencing. In collaboration with bioinformaticians at Liverpool University, analyse two 454 metagenetic sequencing plate outputs (tagged amplicons), corresponding to two ecosystems and 20 sampling stations per estuary. Data will be quality controlled, preprocessed to identify unique reads and BLASTed prior to downstream clustering and ecological analyses. To liaise with co-investigators to share datasets to facilitate the testing of hypotheses of meio- and macrofaunal community diversity in relation to bioturbation and hydrodynamic flows. To liaise with a partner PDRA in the Natural History Museum to share sequencing and videocapture editing data to facilitate links between DNA and morphological taxonomy. To test hypotheses of meiofaunal community diversity in relation to salinity and sediment granulometry profiles. To publish lead-authored and participate in the publishing of co-authored original research articles in high impact journals in a timely and effective manner. To assist in the completion of report(s) associated with the project. Person Specification The successful applicant will ideally have: A PhD based upon the use of molecular ecological markers (preferentially sequence data) in ecology or evolution. Experience, or an interest in benthic ecosystem biodiversity and/or marine/estuarine ecosystem biodiversity. Experience in molecular biology techniques (including cloning), and in particular PCR optimization and sequencing. Experience of 454 amplicon sequencing will clearly be an advantage, although is not expected, given the novelty of the analyses. Experience of next generation sequencing bioinformatics (e.g. using Linux bioinformatics platforms and general computing competency) and advanced BLAST searching would also be desirable, however, training will be provided for the appointed candidate. Experience of phylogenetic/clustering analyses of sequence data. A willingness and record of timely publication of research articles. Good statistical skills including general statistical methods. In good physical health without restrictions on travel to partner institutions. Good time-management skills, and ability to maximise personal research output. Demonstrated interpersonal and communication skills, including willingness to coordinate with others and the ability to work as part of a team. Demonstrate an understanding of the bilingual nature of the institution and area. School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCH OFFICER IN MOLECULAR ECOLOGY (ref: 08-8/29) ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Linking 454 DNA and morphological taxonomy with meio- and macrobenthic biodiversity of the estuarine ecosystem. Summary. Meiofaunal biodiversity plays a pivotal role in sediment ecosystem processes, but quantifying community structure using standard morphological approaches requires highly-skilled taxonomists and is prohibitively time consuming. Not only does this restrict the analysis of meaningful sample sizes in ecological studies, but the small size and morphological conservatism of meiofaunal organisms have led to severe doubts regarding the reliability of morphological taxonomic approaches. As a result of these constraints, synergies between traditional taxonomy and modern molecular identification methods are emerging for meiofaunal biodiversity assessments. Here, we will use combinations of 454 massively parallel sequencing and morphological taxonomy to elucidate relationships between meiofaunal biodiversity, macrofaunal processes (bioturbation) and abiotic processes (e.g. flow rates) and parameters (e.g. salinity ranges) throughout a range of substrate types in estuarine ecosystems characterized by ongoing (Mersey) and recovering (Thames) industrial and municipal pollutant regimes. Both of the latter ecosystems have been studied extensively in the past using morphological taxonomy of the dominant meiofaunal organisms. The project is funded by NERC’s Post Genomics and Proteomics Directed Programme and is in collaboration with Drs. Jan Hiddink and Simon Neill (School of Ocean Sciences), Prof. Neil Hall (Liverpool University) and Prof. John Lambshead and Dr. Tim Ferrero (Natural History Museum). Although the target organisms are meiofauna, we expect the approaches to facilitate research into generalized models of total eukaryotic biodiversity from freshwater to marine ecosystems. Environmental Sciences at UWB Bangor University (BU) includes one of the largest concentrations of natural and environmental scientists within any UK university. BU is a traditional university established in 1884 with ca 8500 students in six academic Colleges (College of Arts & Humanities; College of Business, Social Sciences & Law; College of Education and Lifelong Learning; College of Natural Sciences; College of Health & Behavioural Sciences; College of Physical & Applied Sciences). Biological Sciences (http://www.bangor.ac.uk/biology/) is part of the College of Natural Sciences (CNS), together with the Schools of Environment and Natural Resources (http://www.senr.bangor.ac.uk/) and Ocean Sciences (http://www.sos.bangor.ac.uk/). A recent BU initiative is the establishment of the Environment Centre Wales (ECW), a partnership venture between Bangor University and the Natural Environment Research Council's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH). The Centre will function with a strong emphasis on training and innovative science within the context of sustainability and conservation of natural resources, an important strategic priority of many national and international funding bodies. The Molecular Ecology and Evolution research Group, including the MEFGL, is housed within new purpose-bulit molecular laboratories on the third floor of ECW. Integral to the ECW is the Wales Environment Research Hub (WERH) which is funded by Welsh Assembly, Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency Wales, Forestry Commission Wales, Bangor University, and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. The objective of the Hub is to improve collaboration and effectiveness of environmental science in Wales to support delivery of the Welsh Environment Strategy. The overall impact of the ECW initiative is to facilitate research collaborations across the University, to increase the critical mass of environmental scientists, and to enhance engagement with external environmental agencies. The School of Biological Sciences (http://biology.bangor.ac.uk/) has 30 academic staff, 50 research technicians, research assistants and postdoctoral staff, a teaching support team of 9 and a central administration team of 7. The School has an undergraduate and postgraduate student population of approximately 500. It is a research active school with a range of competitively funded research projects that provides training and research opportunities to a spectrum of levels including Postdoctoral Research Officers. Molecular Ecology at BU The School of Biological Sciences (SBS) supports a vigorous research base in molecular ecology and evolution. The Molecular Ecology and Evolution Group is currently organized into two main groups: The Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory, and the Evolution of Reptiles Unit. Both laboratories share common molecular facilities, group meetings and office space. The wider Group focuses on an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the processes of behaviour, population structure and divergence, adaptation and speciation through to the broader-scale evolution of organisms and genomes. A wide range of organisms are studied, but there is particular expertise in the molecular ecology of aquatic animals (invertebrates and fish) and lower vertebrates such as island lizards and medically important venomous snakes (and their venoms). We are housed in purpose built accommodation and laboratories on the third floor of the new, £8 million ECW . Our well-equipped laboratories have recently benefitted from SRIF3 funding, the Research Council UK has provided a Fellowship/Lectureship in Fisheries Genetics and Conservation, the EU has supported three Marie-Curie Fellows in the last 2 years, and the £10.9 million research partnership between Bangor and Aberystwyth has funded the newly established Chair in Environmental Genomics, with which we interact. Our main project funding comes from the NERC, BBSRC, EU, Environment Agency, Royal Society, DEFRA, Wellcome Trust, Nuffield Foundation, and Leverhulme Trust. The appointee will have access to a suite of fully integrated molecular laboratories (coordinated by graduate technicians) including a 96 lane ABI automated sequencer/genotyper and a Beckman-Coulter capillary sequencer, an Applied Biosystems- 7900HT Fast Real-Time PCR system, wide range of thermal cyclers and associated support, and a new dedicated ancient DNA facility. Technical skills include mtDNA, mitogenomic and nuclear intron sequencing via chain-termination and 454 approaches, cloning, 454 transcriptomics, AFLPs, microsatellite and SNP development and multiplex screening, and in-depth skills in analysing population genetic and molecular phylogeographic and phylogenetic data. Bioinformatic facilities are enhanced by a dedicated Biowulf cluster and server, with a new bioinformatics suite located adjacent to the molecular laboratories. The Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory (MEFGL) The new appointee will become a member of The Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory (MEFGL), a leading research division within the School of Biological Sciences' (SBS) Molecular Ecology and Evolution Group, one of the largest research areas within the University. The MEFGL represents one of Europe’s largest centres focusing on population and species diversity of aquatic animals, with additional activities on terrestrial invertebrates. The current membership of 30 includes 3 Chairs, 1 Lecturer, 6 Postdoctoral Research Officers/Fellows, 10 PhD students, 4 MSc students, 2 Research Technicians/Research Support Staff, 3 Honorary Fellows/Research Associates, and one Visiting Scientist. A central part of our work is the application of molecular markers such as microsatellites, AFLPs, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and sequence data (454 and Sanger) to fundamental evolutionary and ecological questions relating to the origins, levels, distribution and ecological significance of genetic variation in wild populations. In addition to the focus on neutral markers, facilities and expertise are expanding on the functional analysis of genomes, including application of transcriptomics and Real-Time PCR. The MEFGL complements molecular genetic data with detailed ecological, behavioural and physiological information to facilitate examination of the underlying causes of individual, population or species diversity in time and space. Our research interests include: The analysis of population genetic structure Phylogeography and phylogenetics Evolution of adaptive traits and functional analysis of genomes Molecular evolution of genes and genomes Ecological genetics of clonal animals Ancient/recovered DNA in molecular ecology Mechanisms of speciation, especially in tropical freshwater fishes Conservation genetics Genetic management of commercially exploited species DNA barcoding and environmental metagenetics Wildlife forensics Traceability of fish and fish products Pattern, implications and functions of social structure in animal populations Additionally, the MEFGL generates long-term population genetic data sets through the exploitation of natural (e.g. resting eggs, skeletal materials) and archived (e.g. fish scales and otoliths) biological repositories using ancient DNA technology. The MEFGL, originally based at the University of Hull, is a recognised International Centre of Excellence in the molecular ecology of aquatic animals, as indicated by its past record: (1) an external research income exceeding £3,000,000 since 1998; (2) considerable support from a major UK Research Council (Natural Environment Research Council, NERC: approx. £1,400,000 since 1998); (3) organisation of a NATO Advanced Study Institute (ASI) in 1998 on Advances in Molecular Ecology (ASI Director: G.R. Carvalho); (4) publication in leading international journals including Nature, Science, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, Genetics, Evolution, Trends Ecol. Evol., Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. The MEFGL is a member of the Marine Genomics Europe Network of Excellence and the MARBEF Genetic Biodiversity Key Area, both of which has training and gender issues as active priorities. Strong international links have been established with the Fisheries Centre (Vancouver), Max-Planck Institute for Limnology (Germany), the Bergen Marine Laboratory (Norway), the Danish Institute for Fisheries Research (Copenhagen),The Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences (Brussels), the Institute for Biology at Leiden University (Netherlands), the University of Lisbon, the University of Aveiro and Minho in Portugal, the Royal Museum of Central Africa (Tervuren, Belgium), Boston University, The Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, USA), University of California at Long Beach, the Falkland Islands Fisheries Department, Liverpool’s Advanced Genome Facility and the Natural History Museum. Since 1998, Carvalho and his previous group has attracted 45 international visiting scientists for stays of between 3 months and 2 years (e.g. Fellowships from NATO, UNESCO, NSERC, EU-TMR, National Governments of Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Turkey),and has conducted research and training with numerous international colleagues and species groups, representing links to Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, USA, Russia and Antarctica.. The laboratory regularly acts as host to visiting scientists for training and the development of molecular genetic markers, especially the isolation of species-specific microsatellites, and molecular genetic data analysis. Recent group developments The MEFGL, together with other members of the Molecular Ecology & Evolution Group, has recently moved into to the purpose-built research suite embedded within the Environment Centre Wales (ECW). The new facility provides open-plan office space for up to 28 postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers, alongside dedicated PCR, sequencing, bioinformatic, and main laboratory facilities. The recent appointment of a new Chair in Environmental Genomics, Professor Peter Golyshin, to the School of Biological Sciences at Bangor, provides a valuable extension of expertise in technologies, as well as new opportunities for collaborations. Opportunities and activities in behavioural ecology, speciation and the analysis of social structure, especially in tropical freshwater fishes, has received a significant boost with the recent arrival of Professor George Turner and his Group from Hull University. Furthermore, additional interactions with members of the Universities of Bangor and Aberystwyth’s Centre for Catchment and Coastal Research (CCR) partnership (http://www.aberbangorpartnership.ac.uk/en/catchmentcoastal.php) further enable an integrative ecosystem approach to understanding biodiversity. Management and infrastructure Management of research and training in the MEFGL is coordinated by Professor Carvalho, in conjunction with other staff. Fortnightly meetings of all Group members take place, at which individuals present recent project progress for general discussion/trouble-shooting. A monthly Molecular Ecology and Evolution Journal club, coordinated by postgraduate students, provides a forum for discussion of recent topical and controversial publications. Formal regular individual meetings are held between Principal Investigators and research staff, together with appropriate collaborators. Extensive training is available to all new Group members, both in molecular and statistical techniques by specialist technicians, as well as more broadly from the University in research skills, time management and preparation of grant applications. Financial support is available to promote Fellow’s activities at international conferences, and Group members are encouraged to invite speakers to an occasional MEFGL seminar programme. Key staff associated with the available position: Simon Creer (PI) has developed wide-ranging expertise in the application of molecular ecological markers to a diverse array of ecological and evolutionary scenarios. Simon’s PhD and subsequent postdoctoral research has contributed to the understanding of phylogeographical mechanisms, calibration of molecular clocks, molecular systematics and the identification of evolutionary significant units and cryptic genetic diversity. Further research regarding the utility of nuclear (intron) sequence data in molecular phylogenetics has led to further publications (including award winning) in high impact factor journals focusing on the analysis of interspecific nuclear sequence datasets. Simon now holds a Senior Research Fellowship in Molecular Ecology with Prof. Gary Carvalho within the Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory (MEFGL http://biology.bangor.ac.uk/research/mefgl/) in Bangor. During this time, he has developed the application of new technologies to facilitate the characterization of population and species biodiversity in marine meiofaunal populations. Importantly, Creer is currently performing massively parallel sequencing analyses of littoral meiofaunal communities across larger spatial scales to address key questions concerning species biodiversity, supported by a NERC New Investigator grant. He is also in the process of developing microarray-based meiofaunal identification tools (NERC MGF grant), performing 454 mitogenomics (Co-Syst/BBSRC grant), digital transcriptomics and collaborating on a range of speciation, phylogenetic, environmental genomic, population genetic and evolutionary biology-based projects within the MEFGL. Further details of MEFGL activities and staff membership can be found at: http://biology.bangor.ac.uk/research/mefgl/.