Vacancies

We are recruiting a motivated and talented student interested in understanding the evolution and organization of the olfactory system in ants (and other insects). The student will join an interdisciplinary team composed by Carlotta Martelli (neurobiology and computational biology), Susanne Foitzik (behavior and evolution) and Hugo Darras (evolution and genomics), two PhD students and one postdoc.

The project aims to unravel the organizational logic of the olfactory system in Temnothorax ants, from genes to neurons to behavior. The long-term goal is to identify evolutionary signatures of non-canonical organizations of the olfactory system and to understand the computational consequences of different architectures for odor coding and behavior. This innovative, interdisciplinary project combines neurobiological and behavioral experiments, molecular genetic analysis, genomics, transcriptomics, and theory.

This call is intended to fill a PhD position that will focus on the analysis of behavior, with the goal to link molecular and anatomical features of the olfactory system to the behavior of individual ants within a colony.

The project will be co-supervised by S. Foitzik and C. Martelli, in collaboration with H. Darras. The PhD student should have a strong interest in behavior and neurobiology, ideally with experience in quantitative behavioral analysis. Training in evolutionary biology, neuroanatomy and experience in handling insects would also be an advantage but are not a prerequisite.

Funding for this position is secured over 3 years, with potential of extension. The PhD student will have the opportunity to be integrated into the GenEvo graduate program (https://www.genevo-rtg.de/), which offers a close-knit community of graduate students and provides training in molecular and evolutionary biology, as well as methodological courses such as on bioinformatics.

To apply, please send a letter of motivation, CV and contact information of two referees to cmartell@uni-mainz.de and foitzik@uni-mainz.de

DEADLINE: 27.03.2024

For additional information, please contact us!
Carlotta Martelli cmartell@uni-mainz.de, https://mrtlllab.uni-mainz.de/
Susanne Foitzik foitzik@uni-mainz.de, Group Foitzik | Behavioural Ecology and Social Evolution
Hugo Darras hdarras@uni-mainz.de, Group Darras | Behavioural Ecology and Social Evolution

iDN and iomE, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany

We are seeking a motivated and talented student interested in understanding the evolution and organization of the olfactory system in ants (and other insects). The student will join a multidisciplinary team composed by Carlotta Martelli (neurobiology and computational biology), Hugo Darras (evolution and genomics) and Susanne Foitzik (behavior and evolution), two PhD students and one postdoc.

The project aims to unravel the organizational logic of the olfactory system in Temnothorax ants, from genes to neurons to behavior. The long-term goal is to identify evolutionary signatures of non-canonical organizations of the olfactory system and to understand the computational consequences of different architectures for odor coding and behavior. This innovative, interdisciplinary project combines neurobiological and behavioral experiments, molecular genetic analysis, genomics, transcriptomics, and theory.

This call is intended to fill a PhD position focusing on bioinformatics applied to genomic, single-cell transcriptomic and neurobiology analyses which will be co-supervised by H. Darras and C. Martelli in collaboration with S. Foitzik. The PhD student should have a strong interest in bioinformatics, ideally with theoretical or practical knowledge in single-cell transcriptomics, experience in comparative genomics and/or neurobiology. Training in evolutionary biology, experience in handling insects and programming skills in Python would also be an advantage but are not a prerequisite.

Funding for this position is secured over 3 years, with potential of extension. The PhD student will have the opportunity to be integrated into the GenEvo graduate program (https://www.genevo-rtg.de/), which offers a close-knit community of graduate students and provides training in molecular and evolutionary biology, as well as methodological courses such as on bioinformatics.

To apply, please send a letter of motivation, CV and contact information of two referees to cmartell@uni-mainz.de by January 21st, 2024.

For additional information, please contact us!

Carlotta Martelli cmartell@uni-mainz.de, https://mrtlllab.uni-mainz.de/

Hugo Darras hdarras@uni-mainz.de,  Group Darras | Behavioural Ecology and Social Evolution

Susanne Foitzik  foitzik@uni-mainz.de, Group Foitzik | Behavioural Ecology and Social Evolution

iDN and iomE, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany

The Faculty of Biology, Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution, Department Behavioural
Ecology and Social Evolution at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany is looking for a

Postdoctoral researcher / Junior Group Leader
(m/f/d)
Evolution, Epigenetics and Genomics and/or Behavioural Ecology of Social Insects
for up to 4 ½ years

Employment will be as a researcher (EG 13 TV-L, 100%) on a postdoctoral or junior group leader
position, depending on the applicant's experience and interest.

We are looking for a collaborative early career researcher with a competitive publication record in the field of (molecular) evolution, genomics and/or behavioural ecology of social insects, preferably ants. Depending on prior experience, the position can be filled by a postdoc or a junior research group leader in order to establish a research team within the department. Applicants must hold a PhD and for group leader status, previous postdoctoral experience is expected. Knowledge of state-of-the-art molecular approaches including bioinformatics is important. The successful candidate should develop collaborative projects and participate in ongoing projects (e.g. on host-parasite coevolution, molecular regulation of division of labour and aging), including co-supervision of PhD students, and can pursue their own research projects. Fundraising and teaching experience are not required for the postdoctoral position, but are advantageous for the junior group leader, who should build an independent research group supported by extramural funding (e.g. DFG, ERC). The successful applicant is expected to make minor contributions to teaching in the new international Master's programme in Evolutionary Biology and the GenEvo Research Training Group (https://www.blogs.uni-mainz.de/fb10-evolutionary-biology/research-groups/)

The research of the department composed of several international teams and headed by Prof. Dr. Susanne Foitzik, focusses on the (co-)evolution, behavioural ecology and epigenetics of social insects (https://www.blogs.uni-mainz.de/fb10-evolutionary-biology/research-groups/) and is part of the Institute of Molecular and Organismic Evolution iomE (uni-mainz.de). Scientific interactions with the other groups of the department and the graduate programme "Gene Regulation in Evolution" are expected. Our new JGU Biocentre I offers excellent research conditions with state-of-the-art laboratories for molecular genetics, chemistry, NGS sequencing and climate chambers for animal husbandry.

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is interested in increasing the proportion of women in science. Applications from female scientists are highly encouraged. Equally, preference will be given to qualified applicants with disabilities. Mainz University (https://homepage.uni-mainz.de/) is home to many excellent scientific institutions, including the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB, www.imbmainz.de), and Mainz is a historic city on the Rhine with many students and a rich social and cultural life (Landeshauptstadt Mainz: Portal page | Homepage).

Interested candidates should send an application (as a pdf attachment including CV, publication list, statement on research interests, and contact information of two possible referees) to foitzik@uni-mainz.de

Prof. Dr. Susanne Foitzik
Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Biozentrum
Hanns Dieter Hüsch Weg 15
D-55128 Mainz
Germany
Tel: +49 (0) 6131 39 27 840

Closing date for this position is 2nd of January 2024, online interviews will be held in January 2024,
possible starting dates in the first half of 2024.

Every terrestrial organism has to maintain its water balance and cope with the risk of desiccation. This risk is especially high in tropical habitats (due to higher temperatures), and increases with climate change due to rising temperatures and less frequent rainfall.

Insects protect themselves from water loss via a thin layer of lipids on their body surface, the so-called cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs). Composition and quantity of these CHCs is likely to determine how well an insect can maintain its water balance during dry periods. It seems likely that species differ in drought resistance depending on the microhabitat of a tropical habitat. For example, canopy-dwelling species may be more exposed to dry conditions than understory species, and thus be more drought-resistant.

In this project, we want to investigate drought resistance in ants from different microhabitats in a tropical rainforest. We are looking for a highly motivated Master or Bachelor student to participate in our research on desiccation resistance in different ant communities. We will study ant communities in different microhabitats in the tropical lowland rainforest of Perú (leaf litter, understorey, canopy), analyse their CHC profiles and measure their drought resistance.

 Fig.1 Cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of two tropical ant species. 

Fig. 2 The ant species Camponotus femoratus and Crematogaster leviorat their nest entrance

 

The project will combine field work in the Panguana station (near Pucallpa, Perú) with ant identification and chemical analyses using GC-MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry). The candidate(s) will travel to Perú with us in March 2024, and stay there for 3-5 weeks. Field work will include collecting ants, producing chemical extracts, identifying the ant species and conducting desiccation assays. Back in Mainz, the CHC extracts will be analysed by the candidate(s) using GC-MS. Experience in working under field conditions, insect identification and/or statistical analyses are advantageous. Travel expenses (flights and accomodation) must be covered by the candidate(s), although there might be partial financial support.

If you are interested or have further questions, please contact PD Dr. Florian Menzel (menzelf@uni-mainz.de).

Fig. 3 Left: View of the Panguana research station. Right: The rainforest around the station.

Join our international team as a graduate student to investigate the consequences of genomic changes during the evolution of dulotic social parasitism. Follow up on the recent discovery that these raiding parasites have lost odorant and gustatory receptors and investigate their ability to perceive odors. What are the consequences of these genomic changes for their behavior and processing of odorant information in the brain? This innovative, interdisciplinary project combines behavioral and neurobiological experiments as well as gene expression and bioinformatics analyses. To reveal whether hosts can perceive more odors than parasitic ants, we will perform odor perception screens using antennal electrophysiology. We will examine antennal transcriptomes to uncover shifts in the expression of odorant receptor genes. Our goal is also to study brain anatomy to determine whether the loss of odorant receptor genes has led to shifts in the antennal lobes. Finally, candidate genes will be identified and functionally characterized through the RNAi and behavioral screens.

Work in an international team with neurobiologist Carlotta Martelli, evolutionary biologists Jürgen Heinze and Barbara Feldmeyer, and bioinformatician Erich Bornberg-Bauer, and direct supervisor Susanne Foitzik. Funding is secured over 3 years, and the position could potentially be extended. You will be integrated into the GenEvo graduate program (https://www.genevo-rtg.de/), which provides a close-knit community of graduate students and molecular and evolutionary biology training and methodological courses such as on bioinformatics.

Applications are open until October 3rd, 2023. To apply, please send a letter of motivation, CV with publication list, and contact information for two reviewers to Susanne Foitzik at foitzik@uni-mainz.de.

  • How do insects learn to find their way around a maze?
  • When does it make sense for them to forget?
  • What are the molecular bases of learning and forgetting in these social insects?
  • How are those genes regulated on an epigenetic level?

Join us as a postdoctoral researcher at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany, investigating the molecular foundations of cognition in Cataglyphis ants. Uncover the complexities of insect navigation and the equilibrium between memory formation and forgetting. Partnering with Dr. Inon Scharf (Univ Tel Aviv, Israel) and Dr. Romain Libbrecht (Univ Tours), our research, funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG), builds upon pioneering experiments investigating (epi-)genetic influences on ant cognition during spatial orientation.

With a PhD in evolutionary or behavioral biology, molecular genomics, or bioinformatics and a good publication record, you possess what is needed for this position. Funding is secured over 20 months, and the position could potentially be extended. Be part of the Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and a team of researchers working on the evolution of gene regulation https://www.genevo-rtg.de/, combining behavioral experiments, evolutionary theory, molecular biology and bioinformatics.

Applications are accepted until October 3rd, 2023. To apply, send a letter of motivation, CV with publication list, and contact details of two referees to Susanne Foitzik at foitzik@uni-mainz.de.

An 18-month postdoctoral position is available at Johannes Gutenberg Mainz, Germany, starting from 1 July 2023 (or later). The work will be carried out in the research group headed by Dr Susanne Foitzik and in collaboration with Dr Inon Scharf (Univ Tel Aviv, Israel) and Dr Romain Libbrecht (Univ Tours) and is funded by the DFG (German Science Foundation). Extension of position might be possible.

Context:

The proposed project aims to investigate the molecular underpinnings and fitness consequences of spatial learning in the context of foraging in Cataglyphis ants. Experiments on the influence of epigenetic regulators on the ability of foraging ants to learn and forget their way through a maze were conducted by our collaborative team in Israel. The task of the postdoc is now to analyze the transcriptional basis and epigenetic changes underlying these cognitive performances

Prerequisites:

PhD and demonstrated experience through publications in the field of evolutionary biology, molecular genomics and bioinformatics.

Interested candidates should apply by sending (1) a letter of motivation, (2) a CV with publication list and (3) the names, institutions and email addresses of three references to Susanne Foitzik at foitzik@uni-mainz.de.

Position is open until filled, if interested send a short email announcing your interest to apply.