Study the molecular mechanisms and evolution of Developmental Plasticity

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
December 02, 2022
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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Study the molecular mechanisms and evolution of Developmental Plasticity

(ref. BAP-2022-757)

Last modification : Thursday, October 20, 2022

You will be embedded in the research group of Prof. Steven Van Belleghem (https: // and an international, enthusiastic and dynamic team and community with ample expertise in using aquatic invertebrates as model systems to address key questions at the intersection of ecology and evolution (https: // - Division Ecology, Evolutiona and Biodiversity Conservation). Our team has excellent research facilities including temperature-controlled rooms and well-equiped molecular laboratories. You will be co-supervised by Prof. Robby Stoks (https: // and Prof. Ellen Decaestecker (https: // biologie/personalpages/ProfEllenDecaestecker) who have strong expertise in studying Daphnia

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We invite applications for a PhD position to study the molecular mechanisms and evolution of developmental plasticity. The focus will be on the water flea Daphnia magna and its plastic response towards fish predation, for which we have clones in culture.

The PhD project includes controlled experiments in which Daphnia clones will be exposed to fish kairomones and the plastic developmental response will be tested using (i) morphometrics, (ii) behavioral assays and (iii) functional genomics. The latter techniques will include RNA- and ATAC-seq with the aim to reconstruct Gene Regulatory Networks involved in developmental plasticity. In addition, interactions with the microbiome will also be tested.


We are looking for a highly motivated student with an excellent academic record, a strong interest in evolutionary ecology and genomics, and a high ability for accurate lab work. A very good command of both spoken and written English is required. Proven bioinformatics skills are an asset, but training can be provided.


We offer a full-time job initially for a period of one year, but extendable to a total of four years pending good evaluation. Funding is available, but we request and give support for applying for your own scholarship.

A diploma on the level of a Flemish master degree with distinction is required.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Steven Van Belleghem, tel.: +32 16 32 79 71, mail: or Mrs. Conny Coeckelberghs, tel.: +32 16 32 37 17, mail:

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