03/03/2022
The Human Resources Strategy for Researchers

Post-doc position: Viromics of the European house mouse hybrid zone: a model to understand how viruses cross host species barriers

This job offer has expired


  • ORGANISATION/COMPANY
    Institute of Vertebrate Biology of The Czech Academy of Sciences
  • RESEARCH FIELD
    Biological sciencesZoology
  • RESEARCHER PROFILE
    Recognised Researcher (R2)
    Established Researcher (R3)
  • APPLICATION DEADLINE
    31/03/2022 23:00 - Europe/Brussels
  • LOCATION
    Czech Republic › Studenec
  • TYPE OF CONTRACT
    Temporary
  • JOB STATUS
    Full-time
  • HOURS PER WEEK
    40
  • OFFER STARTING DATE
    01/05/2022

OFFER DESCRIPTION

Project background

Most emerging infectious diseases of humans or domestic animals originate from wildlife reservoirs. Among emerging pathogens, viruses are the most likely to jump between host species. In most field systems we cannot predict where or when species jumps are going to occur, making a quantitative description of their properties impossible. The current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is a case in point. The originality of the project is to use a field system where the likely location of new species infections is known a priori, and these infection events are expected to occur with relatively high frequency. One field system with these properties is a hybrid zone, a narrow geographically stable region where two species come into contact and produce fertile offspring. As it is likely that viruses are more prone to jump between closely related species, we might expect species jumps to be maximized across such contacts.

A second attractive aspect of using a hybrid zone setting is the possibility of investigating the effect of pathogen recombination during the process of emergence. Recombination events between divergent pathogen strains were at the origin of several important emergent human-pathogenic outbreaks. When host populations are isolated, diverge and re-contact in HZs, the parasite and pathogen communities carried and co-diverging with their hosts during isolation will also meet. In these circumstances, hybridization is likely to affect them in similar ways to their hosts.

In the European house mouse hybrid zone (HMHZ), we have shown that a nematode and a fungus parasite are in fact cryptic species, each host taxon carrying a different taxon of each parasite. These parasites recombine in the host hybrid zone and form sharper clines than their host genes. In the centre of a stable hybrid zone, the outcome of many generations of hybridization and recombination provide access to the genetics of reproductive isolation, speciation and local adaptation at a resolution that would take many generations of laboratory crossing to equal. This is the reason hybrid zones have been described as “natural laboratories” for evolutionary processes as a whole. The description applies equally to free-living organisms as to their parasites and pathogens. We thus suggest hybrid zones are valuable “natural laboratories” for studying disease emergence from both host and parasite/pathogen viewpoints.

 

Goal of the project

We will use the well-understood species barrier of the HMHZ as an optimal context to investigate the factors involved in viral emergence with particular focus on recombination and reassortment. For this, we will perform an extensive genomic characterisation of house mouse viruses across the European HMHZ and in the sympatric rodent community using Metagenomic approaches.

We will use a probe enrichment step before sequencing to enhance the sensitivity of detection of low-titer viruses and improve their genome assembly. This characterisation will be performed across our standard transect of the HMHZ, the Bohemia-Bavarian region, but also replicated in the Bulgarian part of the HMHZ where the mouse subspecies came into contact earlier and with different environmental conditions in terms of the sympatric rodent community structure. This will provide power to distinguish virus processes strongly depending on host intrinsic factors from that sensitive to environmental conditions.

The post-doc researcher will be responsible for generating and analyzing metagenomics data to characterize the virus community of the HMHZ and local rodent species. The highly prevalent and well geographically distributed virus species will be further analysed to investigate regions of the viral genomes that recombine in the context of the host hybrid zone. The candidate will have the possibility to participate in field sampling in Central Europe (Czech Republic, Germany, Poland).

More Information

Benefits

The successful candidate will have wide interests and a thirst for a deep understanding of evolutionary processes. They will have a background in some of the following fields: molecular biology, speciation, evolution, virology, population genetics and informatics. A good molecular background and experience in informatics are necessary.

Selection process

Candidates should submit a short CV and letter of interest in a single PDF file to Joelle Gouy de Bellocq (joellegouy@gmail.com), who is the principal investigator of the project focussing on parasites in the house mouse hybrid zone. The work will be carried out in close collaboration with Stuart J.E. Baird (https://www.ivb.cz/en/person/stuart-j-e-baird/) a specialist for speciation genetics/genomics inference. The applications will be read directly by the academic advisors and interviews will be held until a suitable candidate is found.

The deadline for applications is 31th of March 2022 (can be postponed if a suitable candidate will contact us with specific reasons), the contract can start as early as 1st of 1st of May 2022. The position is open for one year and renewable pending on evaluation.

Offer Requirements

  • REQUIRED LANGUAGES
    OTHER: Good

Skills/Qualifications

Research conditions:

The post-doc will work in a small team (https://www.ivb.cz/en/team/holobiont-evolutionary-interactions-group/) at the Institute of Vertebrate Biology of The Czech Academy of Sciences, at Research Facility Studenec (https://www.ivb.cz/en/workplace/external-research-facility-studenec/). The Studenec campus (two hours from Prague) is situated in nature beside a lake in the Czech-Moravian highlands, half an hour from Brno, the second city of the Czech Republic, where there is the large campus of the Masaryk University. The region’s rolling hills and woods are popular with cyclists. On campus work discussion is in international English. The position is well suited to candidates who wish to broaden their experience and skills in an area of evolutionary study that will always be in demand, while at the same time maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Due to the location of the facility, personal car is useful, but not necessary (there is a train station 10 mins walk from the lab). The gross monthly salary will be about 40,000 CZK (net salary ~ 32 000 CZK), accommodation in nearby towns (accessible by train) can be found around 10,000 CZK pcm.

Specific Requirements

Requirements:

The successful candidate will have wide interests and a thirst for a deep understanding of evolutionary processes. They will have a background in some of the following fields: molecular biology, speciation, evolution, virology, population genetics and informatics. A good molecular background and experience in informatics is necessary.

The postdoc academic advisors (Joelle Gouy de Bellocq and Stuart J.E. Baird) are trained in evolutionary parasitology, molecular biology and population genetics/genomics. The candidate’s existing work will be judged on its quality and utility to the scientific community rather than the gross number of publications.

Candidates should submit a short CV and letter of interest in a single PDF file to Joelle Gouy de Bellocq (joellegouy@gmail.com), who is the principal investigator of the project focussing on parasites in the house mouse hybrid zone. The work will be carried out in close collaboration with Stuart J.E. Baird (https://www.ivb.cz/en/person/stuart-j-e-baird/) a specialist for speciation genetics/genomics inference. The applications will be read directly by the academic advisors and interviews will be held until a suitable candidate is found.

The deadline for applications is 31th of March 2022 (can be postponed if a suitable candidate will contact us with specific reasons), the contract can start as early as 1st of May 2022. The position is open for one year and renewable pending evaluation.

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Institute of Vertebrate Biology of The Czech Academy of Sciences
Czech Republic
Česká republika
Studenec
67502
Studenec 122

EURAXESS offer ID: 752744

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