Open Positions

Understanding haplotype structure
Two postdoctoral positions are available, for research in evolutionary genomics.  These are funded by an ERC Advanced Grant, “Understanding the evolution of continuous genomes”. 

An organism’s phenotype depends on a multitude of genetic variants, spread over a linear genome. This is widely understood, and yet in practice, has hardly been incorporated into population genetic analysis. Recent developments in theory, computation, and sequencing technology now make it possible to obtain and analyse whole haploid genomes on a large scale. Theory and methods will be developed in close interaction with empirical data from artificial selection experiments and from an intensely studied hybrid zone in Antirrhinum; for both, we have a known pedigree, and phased whole-genome sequence. Population structure will be analysed by following blocks of genome through pedigrees, and across two-dimensional landscapes. Selection on discrete loci will be analysed by finding its effect on surrounding haplotypes, by seeing how favoured alleles become disentangled from heterogeneous backgrounds, and how haplotype blocks flow past selected clines. The contribution of variants that are spread across the genome to GWA, to selection response, and to hybrid zones will be modelled. The project will develop better tools for inferring selection and population structure from DNA sequence data, and more fundamentally, will give us a deeper understanding of how the abundant variation that is carried on linear genomes is shaped by evolution.

This work will help bridge the distinct communities within genomics, quantitative genetics, and population genetics, which currently tackle these problems largely in isolation. Thus, we seek to build a team with diverse and complementary skills, ranging from development of methods for pedigree reconstruction and inference from whole-genome sequence, through to mathematical analysis of spatial structure and of the ancestral recombination graph.   There will be opportunities for involvement in fieldwork in the Pyrenees each summer.

The positions will be available for three years, with possibility of extension; the salary scale starts at €57,680 p.a.  Applicants should have a Ph.D. in a relevant area (including population genetics, computer science, mathematics, statistical physics), with strong quantitative skills, and an interest in fundamental research.  For further details, please contact nick.barton@ist.ac.at.   Applications should be sent by October 1st, and should include a CV, a statement of research interests, and names of referees.

The Institute of Science and Technology is a new research institute, located in the Wienerwald, just outside Vienna (www.ist.ac.at).  The Institute encourages multidisciplinary research, and has strong groups at the interface between biology and physics, mathematics, and computer science.  There are close links with the many other evolution groups in Vienna (www.univie.ac.at/evolvienna).

Surendranadh, P., Arathoon, L., Field, D.L., Pickup, M., Baskett, C.A., Barton, N.H. 2022. Estimating inbreeding depression in a long-term study of snapdragons.  Genetics https://academic.oup.com/genetics/article/221/3/iyac083/6594117

Shipilina, D., Stankowski, S., Pal, A., Barton, N.H. 2022.  On the origin and structure of haplotype blocks https://www.authorea.com/doi/full/10.22541/au.164328881.11613382