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PhD Studentship in Molecular Ecology

P E Hulme P.E.Hulme at durham.ac.uk
Thu Jun 6 03:49:50 EST 1996

                     UNIVERSITY OF DURHAM
           NERC PhD Studentship in Molecular Ecology

  The Role of Landscape and Dispersal Strategy in Determining
   Population Genetic Structure of Three Species of Invasive

     Empirical studies suggest that the type, size and spatial
arrangements of habitats can all affect the amount and spatial
distribution of genetic variation in plants.  This study will
investigate the impact of landscape structure (e.g. physical
and biological barriers or corridors) on the population
genetics of three species of invasive weeds (Fallopia
japonica, Impatiens glandulifera and Heracleum
mantegazzianum).  Genetic variation will be assessed using
advanced molecular techniques and the data incorporated into
spatially explicit models in order to identify patterns of
gene flow and drift. Current empirical and theoretical studies
at Durham on the ecological processes involved in the invasion
of riparian landscapes by alien weeds provide a unique
opportunity to study the interaction between landscape
structure and plant genetic variation.  Furthermore, the mode
of dispersal, and therefore the expected pattern of population
expansion, is different for each of the species.  Fallopia
japonica reproduces vegetatively, which should imply a high
level of kinship between contiguous populations.  Seeds of  I.
glandulifera are transported primarily by water, while seeds
of  H. mantegazzianum are dispersed by both wind and water.  A
comparative study will permit the assessment of the relative
importance of dispersal strategy to the genetic structure of
populations of plants sharing similar habitats. Further
analyses on the mechanisms of  dispersal, and especially
pollen transfer (involving studies of the ecology and
behaviour of pollinators), may also be incorporated.
Initially the student will investigate molecular genetic
variation in each plant species within and among ten
geographic locations in each of the Tees, Tyne and Wear river
catchments.  The pattern of genetic variation at various
markers both within and between sample sites will be analysed
to determine the likely origin of new colonists, the overall
pattern of population expansion, as well as the relationship
between population genetic structure, landscape type and
dispersal strategy.  This study will provide new insights into
the role of landscape and dispersal strategy in ecological
genetics.  In addition, by incorporating the genetic data into
a detailed GIS for the catchments it will enable the models of
species-spreading developed in the ecological studies to be
tested.  Training will be given in both practical and
analytical aspects of molecular ecology including PCR, gel
electrophoresis and DNA sequencing, and will incorporate
analytical methods such as SSCP (single strand conformational
polymorphism) and RAPD (randomly amplified polymorphic DNA).
The student will attend Departmental courses on GIS,
statistics and experimental design as well as the Durham
University taught course in basic research skills.

Please send an up to date CV, the names and addresses of two
referees and a covering letter stating why this project
appeals to you and why you are suitable for this studentship

Contact -      Dr. Rus Hoelzel  (Tel: 0191-374-7745; e-mail
A.R.Hoelzel at durham.ac.uk)
          Dr. Phil Hulme (Tel: 0191-374-3353; e-mail
P.E.Hulme at durham.ac.uk)
                    Department of Biological Sciences,
                    University of Durham,
                    Durham.  DH1 3LE UK

Deadline for Applications - June 20 1996

*  Philip Hulme,			   Tel:      0191-374-3353      *
*  Department of Biological Sciences,	   Fax:      0191-374-2417/3741 *
*  University of Durham,		E-mail: P.E.Hulme at durham.ac.uk  *
*  Durham.  DH1 3LE.  UK.						*

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