PhD position: Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

The research unit “Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes” is
offering a

PhD position

in the DFG funded project Convergent evolution of immunological
tolerance in female and male pregnancy. The Principal Investigator is
Dr. Olivia Roth (GEOMAR, Kiel) in collaboration with Dr. Sissel Jentoft
(Centre for Evolutionary and Ecological Synthesis (CEES), Oslo, Norway)
and Dr. Till Bayer (GEOMAR, Kiel). A close cooperation with a co-PhD
student who is already employed in the project and a postdoc for whom
the search will start soon is expected.

Job Description

We are looking for a motivated and enthusiastic applicant, who shares
our fascination for the immune system and male pregnancy in pipefishes
and seahorses, and who feels inspired to devote himself to the
evolution and genetic basis of male pregnancy using experimental,
molecular biological and bioinformatic tools. The start date is as soon
as possible.

Project Description

Viviparity has evolved multiple times independently in the animal
kingdom. In addition to specific morphological reorganizations, major
changes in the immunological tolerance were indispensably associated
with the evolution of pregnancy and placentation in mammals. Only if
the embryo is immunologically tolerated, a successful pregnancy of
non-self tissue within the womb is permitted. These processes remain
severely understudies in other vertebrates. The group parental
investment and immune dynamics led by Dr. Olivia Roth investigates the
evolution of mating systems in the most species-rich vertebrate group,
the teleosts. Our research focuses on the evolution of immunological
tolerance in male pregnancy of pipefishes and seahorses (syngnathids).
This project aims to shed light on how male pregnancy coevolved with
rearrangements of the adaptive immune system. With comparative
genomics, transcriptomics and gene knock-in and knock-out, we aim to
examine the genetic basis of trait loss and gain, and will highlight
which genes with different original functions were recruited (gene
co-option), and which were newly established during the evolution of
parental investment.

The successful applicant will focus on mating experiments followed by
comparative transcriptomics over the reproductive phase of several
Syngnathiformes species, displaying a range from parental investment
(solely egg and sperm provisioning to female and male pregnancy) and
sex roles (from conventional to reversed). Combined with the
comparative genomics approach (co-PhD student) and gene knock-in and
knock-out over CRISPR-cas (postdoc) we aim to shed light on the
convergent evolution of parental investment.

The GEOMAR, the University of Kiel and the Max Planck Institute for
Evolutionary Biology in Plon are part of a stimulating research
environment for Evolutionary Biology in Germany. The PhD student will
join one of our two graduate schools, either the International
Max-Planck-Research School for Evolutionary Biology (IMPRS) or the
Integrated School of Ocean Sciences (ISOS). Kiel is the capital of the
most Northern state of Germany, directly located at the coast of the
Baltic Sea. Kiel offers many opportunities for leisure activity, in
particular people enjoying watersports will love the environment.


The successful candidate is required to have a Master in Biology, to be
highly motivated and able to interact with a team of researchers. A
background in evolutionary biology and the knowledge of immunological
and molecular biology, as well as experience in the analysis of
next-generation sequencing data are desirable. Experience in fish
handling and aquaria experiments would be advantageous.

Salary is according to the scale for public servants TvÖD 13 (65%),
the project duration is three years. The working language of our group
is English.

The GEOMAR seeks to increase the proportion of female scientists and
explicitly encourages qualified female academics to apply. GEOMAR is an
equal opportunity employer and encourages scientists with disabilities
to apply. Qualified disabled applicants will receive preference in the
application process.

Please send your application including a curriculum vitae, a one-page
statement of research interests and a letter of motivation, along with
names and addresses of two referees as a single pdf file by email to under the heading Converge Preg. The closing date
is May 16, 2017.


For further information regarding the position and research unit please
contact Olivia Roth (, phone number: ++49 431 600 4557).
GEOMAR is a member of the Helmholtz Association and the German Marine
Research Consortium (KDM). For further information about GEOMAR, please
visit or, and on the group parental
investment and immune dynamics, please visit

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel is a foundation of
public law jointly financed by the Federal Republic of Germany (90%)
and the state of Schleswig-Holstein (10%) and is one of the
internationally leading institutions in the field of marine sciences.
Currently GEOMAR disposes over an annual budget of approx. 72 million
Euro and has approx. 950 employees.
Olivia Roth
Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes
Dusternbrookerweg 20
D-24105 Kiel
++49 431 600 4557

Olivia Roth <>

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