PhD Position "Vertebrate Evolutionary Genomics" Centre for Molecular Biology (ZMBH) Heidelberg University


This project aims to trace the evolutionary and cellular origins of vertebrate nervous cell types and tissues, as well as the underlying genomic changes, based on the generation and bioinformatics analysis of extensive single-cell genomics datasets and complementary experiments (e.g., CRISPR/Cas) across representative vertebrates and outgroup species. The project is closely connected to the project of the Arendt partner lab; together, the labs' projects aim at reconstructing the neuron type complement of the common bilaterian ancestor.


Marin, R., Cortez, D., Lamanna, F., Pradeepa, M.M., Leushkin, E., Julien, P., Liechti, A., Halbert, J., Brüning, T., Mössinger, K., Trefzer, T., Conrad, C., Kerver, H.N., Wade, J., Tschopp, P., Kaessmann, H. (2017) Convergent origination of a Drosophila-like dosage compensation mechanism in a reptile lineage. Genome Res. 27: 1974-1987.


Guschanski, K., Warnefors, M., and Kaessmann, H. (2017) The evolution of duplicate gene expression in mammalian organs. Genome Res. 27: 1461-1474.


Necsulea, A., Soumillon, M., Warnefors, M., Liechti, A., Daish, T., Zeller, U., Baker, J.C., Grutzner, F., and Kaessmann, H. (2014) The evolution of lncRNA repertoires and expression patterns in tetrapods. Nature 505: 635-640.


Cortez, D., Marin, R., Toledo-Flores, D., Froidevaux, L., Liechti, A., Waters, P.D., Grutzner, F., and Kaessmann, H. (2014) Origins and functional evolution of Y chromosomes across mammals. Nature 508: 488-493.


Necsulea, A. and Kaessmann, H. (2014) Evolutionary dynamics of coding and noncoding transcriptomes. Nat. Rev. Genet. 5: 734-48.


Brawand, D., Soumillon, M., Necsulea, A., Julien, P., Csardi, G., Harrigan, P., Weier, M., Liechti, A., Aximu-Petri, A., Kircher, M., Albert, F.W., Zeller, U., Khaitovich, P., Grutzner, F., Bergmann, S., Nielsen, R., Paabo, S., and Kaessmann, H. (2011) The evolution of gene expression levels in mammalian organs. Nature 478: 343-348.


Methods that will be used:

Bioinformatics/evolutionary and/or wet lab (genomic/molecular) approaches.

Cooperation partners:

Detlev Arendt (EMBL) and other EvoCELL members

Personal qualifications:

The ideal candidate has a strong interest (and potentially experience) in both wet lab (genomic/molecular) experiments and bioinformatics analyses. However, we will also consider candidates who prefer to emphasize either wet lab or bioinformatics work (the respective other aspect of the project may potentially be complemented by other lab members). The candidate should have a passion for evolutionary biology. EU fellowship eligibility criteria: at the time of recruitment, the candidate must not have resided or carried out her/his main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Germany for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to start of the project. Short stays such as holidays and/or compulsory national service are not taken into account. Candidates can be of any nationality, but are required to undertake transnational mobility. Candidates should ideally possess a Master’s degree in a relevant academic field, or a degree that allows them to embark in a PhD. Candidates must be within the first four years of their research career. Applications from candidates who already possess a doctoral degree will not be considered.


evolution, vertebrates, nervous system, single cells, gene expression