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Post Doc on genomics of historic coral bleaching – Umeå University, Sweden

deadlines 31st March 2023

2 year fixed term contract


The postdoctoral scholar will be based at Umeå University in Sweden, home of the pioneering discovery of CRISPR-Cas9 genetic scissors – a revolution in genetic engineering that has been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Background: Symbioses are prevalent across many biomes and can be critical to the biodiversity, productivity and survival of some of the most charismatic ecosystems on Earth. However, sometimes these symbioses break down. Whilst this may be survivable for the individual partners, it can lead to widespread death of both host and symbiont. Here we use coral reefs as a model system to empirically investigate symbiotic breakdown.

The ecosystem services provided by coral reefs are worth over €78 billion annually and include coastline protection, tourism, food and medical derivatives. However, the health of corals can be significantly impacted by coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is the loss of symbiotic zooxanthellae (Symbiodiniaceae) from tropical corals and can be caused by stressors such as thermal perturbations, disease and freshwater runoff. Thermal perturbations are thought to be a major bleaching trigger and have been well documented in conjunction with major global bleaching events. These mass bleaching events cause widespread coral death, with catastrophic ecosystem and service provision impacts.

Despite the devastation caused by severe coral bleaching, it is still difficult to assess if corals will survive in the warmer oceans projected for the end of the century as we do not fully understand the stability of the symbiotic relationship, particularly over long timescales. To better understand the relevance of current symbiotic breakdowns and their role in the future survival of both host and symbiont, the investigation of historic symbiotic breakdowns in required. This postdoctoral position will work with the PIs’ research groups to focus on aDNA extractions of coral and symbiont genetic material from recent and past coral skeleton.

Project advances beyond the state-of-the-art: We anticipate that the postdoctoral fellow will make key advances in coral bleaching science by: 1) tuning the technique for aDNA extraction from the coral skeleton and 2) collaborating widely within the PIs’ research groups to determine trajectories in coral bleaching recorded in the coral skeleton.

This postdoc will be based in the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences and also the Umeå Marine Sciences Centre. They will be supervised by a multidisciplinary team with complementing expertise in coral bleaching and aDNA.

Specific Qualifications

To qualify for the fellowship, the candidate should have a PhD degree, or a foreign degree that is deemed equivalent, in with a significant components of aDNA methodology

Contact Information

Professor Nick Kamenos, Dept. Ecology and Environmental Sciences / Umeå Marine Sciences Centre, [email protected]

Dr Heidi Burdett, Dept. Ecology and Environmental Sciences, [email protected] 

Dr Eric Capo,  Dept. Ecology and Environmental Sciences, [email protected]

Application process

Full details of the application process are available here.

Job page here

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