Ph.D. student

PhD Position in Molecular basis of convergent adaptation in wild Arabidopsis
Labs of Cell Growth (Matyáš Fendrych) and Ecological genomics (Filip Kolář)
Faculty of Science, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic and

When does evolution repeat itself? Evolution is driven by a combination of deterministic forces and
stochasticity, whose relative importance remains a matter of debate. Knowing how predictable
evolution is can provide insights into predictive evolution of crops, pathogens or species under climate
change. This project will address molecular and physiological functions of key candidate genes that were
repeatedly recruited for adaptation in wild members of the leading plant model Arabidopsis.
Leveraging extensive knowledge of natural variation of this system, the successful candidate will focus
on the functional characterization of key candidate genes involved in repeated adaptation to
exceptionally strong selective pressure, toxic soils called serpentines. By focusing on genes harboring
independent mutations, the project aims at uncovering general mechanisms determining which
portion of genome evolves in a predictable manner. The successful candidate will address the novel
gene alleles function on the molecular and cellular level in a fully interdisciplinary manner, resulting in
a unique experimental profile of the candidate.

The student will join the established international team of M. Fendrych at the Department of Experimental Plant Biology and will also closely collaborate with the Group of Ecological genomics of Filip Kolář at the Department of Botany. The project is funded by a highly selective Junior Star project and further supported by a Starting ERC project.

The major aim of the thesis will be to experimentally link the molecular function of the candidate
gene alleles with the adaptation to the new environment. This will be achieved by the following
• characterize molecular function of selected adaptive candidate genes using by protein
localization and dynamics, and determining protein interaction partners (molecular cloning,
protein biochemistry, high-resolution live cell imaging)
• analyze the phenotypic effects of candidate gene using cell biological and physiological
methods (loss of function mutants, CRISPR/Cas9, complementation assays, genetically
encoded fluorescence sensors)
• integrate these results with data on natural genetic variation using bioinformatic approaches
of ecological genomics (selection scans, environmental association analyses)

We offer

• creative and supportive atmosphere in an international team
• additional interdisciplinary experience through local (co-supervision in plant molecular and
evolutionary labs), and a network of international collaborations
• competitive salary plus scholarship covered
• fully covered health insurance and contribution to the social security system
• support for establishment of foreign employees via the Staff Welcome Center of the
• work in a vibrant cultural Prague city

We require

• strong motivation for interdisciplinary research at the border of molecular and evolutionary
• a MSc degree in Biology or related fields (in early 2024 at the latest)
• good spoken and written English, communication at the Department is fully in English

Desirable but not required

• experience with molecular biology methods

Please submit your CV, contact details for two referees to Review of the applications will begin on December 10 2023 and will continue until the position has been filled. The exact start date is negotiable.

General information for prospective PhD students