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

Primary Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Andreas Hejnol.

Project duration: 36 months.

Project description: The research group, headed by Andreas Hejnol, studies the evolution of animal organ systems using a broad diversity of animal taxa (e.g. nemerteans, priapulids, rotifers, gastrotrichs, acoelomorphs). The group is particularly interested in studying the molecular and cellular basis of organ system development using a comparative approach. The project addresses the question about the evolution of gravitational sensory organs across multicellular animals. Different animal lineages use differently shaped organs and cell types for sensing gravitation. Some of these organs are very prominent (statocyst in Acoelomorpha, Cnidaria and ctenophores) in other lineages the gravitational sense, although present, is not yet discovered. The aim of this project is to use single-cell transcriptomics, in situ hybridization and ultrastructural methods to characterize in detail gravitational sense organs in different animal lineages. The candidate will conduct comparative developmental transcriptomic analyses, detect commonalities and differences in different gravitation-sensing organs in e.g. acoelomorphs, priapulids, brachiopods and hemichordates.

The embryology/development and differentiation of these tissues will be studied using techniques such as Histology, Transmission Electron Microscopy, molecular biology, live-imaging, and single-cell sequencing. The successful candidate will work in close association with the group leader and other lab members with the aim to eventually contribute to the further development of the project in line with his/her interests.

Required applicant profile:

  •       Experience in molecular biology and embryology methods is essential while experience in morphology and bioinformatics is highly desirable.
  •       A background in evolutionary biology is beneficial.
  •       A high motivation and passion for science is essential. 
  •       Ability to work both independently and in close collaboration with others in a structured manner.

Application deadline: 20th March 2024

How to apply: **An application link will soon be provided**