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Evolutionary adaptation of plants through the lens of ecological theories: an experimental test in

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General information

Reference : UMR5175-CYRVIO-003
Date of publication : Friday, August 23, 2019
Scientific Responsible name : Cyrille Violle et François Vasseur
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 October 2019
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

Experimental evolution combined with modern genomic tools provides a great opportunity to examine the dynamics and strength of selection in real time as well as to test the validity of prominent ecological hypotheses. For instance, a paradigm in functional ecology is that plants cannot simultaneously be efficient at certain tasks, such as acquiring and conserving resources, or be both competitive and stress tolerant. These constraints are reflected by functional trade-offs between traits observed across large taxonomic scales. However, the role of these trade-offs on the rapid adaptation and differentiation of populations within species remains to be elucidated. The 'AraBreed' project, led by Cyrille Violle and funded by ANR and DFG, aims at exploring the evolution of functional trade-offs under contrasted environments. As part of the AraBreed project, the PhD candidate will monitor the evolution of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana over several generations in four environments, which differ in resource availability (nutrient and water), and herbivores abundance. Each experimental population consists of 17,500 recombinant lines, previously generated from 350 random crosses between 400 natural and fully sequenced natural accessions. This has the advantage of breaking up ancestral gene complexes and recreating phenotypes thought to be purged by natural selection. Experimental populations are replicated seven times per environment (28 populations for 500,000 genotypes in total). The project begun in 2017, so the candidate will start at the third generation of evolution. Each year (generation), multiple samples will be collected to perform population genetic analysis with pool-seq, and plant traits involved in major functional trade-offs will be phenotyped. During his/her PhD, the candidate will assess the evolution of functional traits and trade-offs, and he/she will study the underlying allelic changes by genomic analysis.

Work Context

A three-year PhD position at the interface of functional ecology and evolutionary genomics is available at the Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CEFE, CNRS, Montpellier, France; The CEFE is currently the largest French research center in ecology and evolution. The PhD position is co-funded by the French Research Agency (ANR) and the German Research Foundation (DFG). It will be co-supervised by Cyrille Violle and Francois Vasseur (CEFE), in close collaboration with Denis Vile (INRA Montpellier, France) and Niek Scheepens (University of Tübingen, Germany). Stays in Tübingen are planned for direct interactions, as well as to perform experiments and analyses.

Constraints and risks


Additional Information

PhD position funded by the French Research Agency (ANR)

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