ERC-funded PhD project

Divergent and convergent evolution of dietary specialisations in bats

Our recent work has focused on identifying molecular adaptations associated with the evolution of echolocation in bats and dolphins. In particular, we have shown that these two groups of divergent taxa have undergone numerous identical amino acid substitutions in multiple genes implicated in hearing and vision [1].

I am now seeking a motivated and highly able PhD student to build on this work. In particular, this PhD project will seek to elucidate the genetic basis of divergent and convergent evolution of dietary specialisations in bats. Bats have undergone an extraordinary adaptive radiation linked to dietary diversification [e.g. ref. 2], from blood eating vampires to nectar feeders and frugivores.

The project will combine bioinformatics and evolutionary analyses, and so experience in both of these is essential. Fieldwork in the tropics is optional but not compulsory.

Potential applicants are encouraged to submit an informal application (CV and covering letter outlining your suitability for the position) to Stephen Rossiter ( before the formal deadline.



[1] Parker et al (2013) Genome-wide signatures of convergent evolution in echolocating mammals. Nature 502, 228–231.
[2] Liu et al (2012) Multiple adaptive losses of alanine-glyoxylate aminotransferase mitochondrial targeting in fruit eating bats. Molecular Biology and Evolution 29, 1507-1511.


Start date: January 2015 (earlier start date is possible)
Deadline for formal applications: 18 September 2014 via the department web page. For informal inquiries, applicants are encouraged to sent a CV and covering letter in advance of this date to Dr Rossiter ( .

Other keywords: mammals, genomics, selection, adaptation, speciation

Essential skills, qualities and knowledge:

A First Class or Upper Second Class degree (or equivalent) in a relevant biological discipline (biology, zoology, genetics, bioinformatics) is essential

A Master’s degree (or equivalent experience)

Strong background in evolutionary biology

Experience of performing phylogenetic and evolutionary analyses

Experience of handling large DNA sequence datasets

Knowledge of coding (e.g. perl, python, ruby, R) is extremely desirable

Strong work ethic and a positive attitude

Self-motivated, well-organized and willingness to respond to constructive criticism

Ability to work closely with others, and participate in the life and research activities of the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at QMUL

Funding Notes:
This funding is available to all UK and EU nationals

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