Virology, Evolutionary Genetics and Systems Biology Assistanship
||Genetics and Biotechnology
||Ministry of Science and Innovation
|PhD Fellowship offer.
Principal Investigator: Prof. Santiago F. Elena
Group and Center: Evolutionary Systems Virology Group. Institute for
Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology. Spanish National Research Council
– Valencia Polytechnique University. Campus UPV CPI 8E, Ingeniero
Fausto Elio s/n, 46022 Valencia, Spain:
Institute Website: www.ibmcp.upv.es
Group Website: bioxeon.ibmcp.upv.es/EvolSysVir. This site contains
valuable information about the group’s ongoing research, publications
and other scientific achievements.
Period: 24 months of fellowship + 24 months of contract.
Abstract of the Project: One of the major threats to human and animal
health as well as to agronomy is the emergence of new infectious diseases,
most of which are caused by RNA viruses. RNA viruses show a remarkable
evolvability owed to their large population size, short generation
times and high mutation and recombination rates. Understanding the
mechanisms by which a virus becomes an emerging one is thus pivotal
for the rational design of antiviral therapies and control strategies.
In this project we are interested in learning what are the population
genetic mechanisms determining the emergence of new viruses and what
changes, both in viral genome and in the plant-virus interaction, take
place during the process of emergence and adaptation to the new host.
We will take an experimental approach using the Tobacco etch potyvirus as
model system complemented with evolutionary genetics analyses and with an
in silico Systems Biology modeling approach. First, we will characterize
the distribution of mutational effects and epistatic interactions among
pairs of random mutations across potential hosts and test predictions
of models recently proposed to this end. Second, we will perform a
large-scale evolution experiment simulating the process of emergence of an
RNA virus in a population of genetically heterogeneous hosts. From this
experiment and the corresponding analyses, we will learn: (i) about the
constraints imposed by different hosts and the specificity of adaptation,
(ii) about the reproducibility of evolution at the phenotypic and
molecular level and about the targets of selection in the viral genome,
(iii) about the cellular components (genes and networks of interactions)
to which viruses adapt and how their manipulation may result in virulence,
and (iv) by comparing our transcriptomic data, and an inferred model of
host interactome, with those obtained for other viruses infecting the same
host, we will try to elucidate whether phylogenetically related viruses
target the same components in the host interactome while unrelated viruses
target widely different components. Finally, by using the new ultra-deep
pyrosequencing technologies, we will obtain an unprecedented description
of how virus genetic variability is generated, distributes spatially on
different plant tissues and evolves within a single infected host plant.
Requirements: We are seeking for a person genuinely interested
in developing a scientific career in an interdisciplinary area
where Virology, Evolutionary Genetics and Systems Biology merge.
The candidate must be a very motivated person, with skills for working
in a dynamic international group, initiative and absolute disponibility.
In particular, we are interested in students holding a BSc (or equivalent)
degree in Biology, Biochemistry or alike, with graduation after January
1st, 2005. An outstanding academic record is necessary. In addition,
previous experience in Evolutionary Genomics, Molecular Biology and
Bioinformatics will be positively valorized.
Deadline for submission. The exact days for submission
have not yet been published by the Ministry, but it will be
likely open by mid January 2005. More information can be
obtained at the Ministry of Science and Innovation website
Potential candidates, please contact the PI as soon as possible at the
e-mail address below
Prof. Santiago F. Elena, PhD
Evolutionary Systems Virology Group
Institute de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas (CSIC-UPV)
Campus UPV, CPI 8E, lab. 3.0.4
Ingeniero Fausto Elio s/n, 46022 Valencia, Spain
Phone: +34 963 877 895
Fax: +34 963 877 859
The Santa Fe Institute
1399 Hyde Park Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501