Host  institution: Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn (SZN), IT.

PhD Awarding institution: Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSUJENA), DE. 

Primary Supervisor:  Dr. Maria I. Arnone.

Co- Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Andreas Hejnol.

Project duration: 36 months.

Project description: The sea urchin pluteus larva spends from few to many weeks in the water column, where it is exposed to a complex environment. Therefore, these larvae have evolved mechanisms to adapt to changing, e.g., temperature, light, food conditions. A well-described example is the phenotypic plasticity of larvae depending on food availability that produces plutei with longer arms when food is scarce. Building on the previous knowledge acquired in the Arnone lab, where a pair of photoreceptor cells producing the TRH neuropeptide (TRHergic-PCRs) placed at either side of the Apical Organ (AO) were found to mediate phenotypic plasticity, the project aims at: i) reconstructing the microanatomy and connectome of the Paracentrotus lividus 4 day larva AO using serial vEM;  ii) obtain a single cell transcriptomics atlas of the 4-day larva; iii) placing the transcriptionally identified AO sensory cells and adjacent TRHergic-PCRs onto the 3-D ultrastructural map using correlative microscopy approaches; iv) map the interconnection between the TRHergic-PCRs and the anterior nervous system; v) functionally perturb sensory signalling by pharmacology and/or gene loss of function.

Required applicant profile: Experience in developmental and/or evolutionary biology, electron microscopy, bioinformatics or neurobiology is advantageous.

Application deadline: 28th June 2024

How to apply: To apply to this position, visit the following link.