Laboratory of Molecular evolution and ecology of protists
Section of Biology: Department of Genetics & Evolution and Unit of Microbiology
Prof. Jan Pawlowski
T: +41 22 379 30 69
Foraminifera are single-cell aquatic organisms characterized by a soft-walled or hard shell and the filamentous extensions of cytoplasm forming a network of reticulopodia. The foraminifera form the major group of marine benthos with more than 10’000 modern species described. However, most of these species belong to the well-known groups of calcareous or agglutinated foraminifera, described based on morphological characters. Little is know about genetic diversity of these species, in particular those characterized by organic or soft-walled tests, which are poorly preserved in the fossil sediments. DNA barcoding allows identifying these species based on a short fragment of the small-subunit ribosomal RNA gene.
The project consists in barcoding a large collection of Arctic coastal foraminifera composed in majority of undescribed species. The DNA barcoding data combined with morphological characteristics will allow describing some of these new species. Moreover, the molecular data will be used to examine the phylogenetic relationships between Arctic foraminifera and those from polar and subpolar regions of Southern hemisphere.
The candidate is expecting to have a good knowledge of systematics and interest in using genetic information to define species and analyse their origins and geographic distribution. She/he will learn different molecular techniques applied in molecular systematics, including PCR, cloning, Sanger sequencing and high-throughput sequencing (HTS). She/he will also be using different programs of DNA sequence analysis, including the analysis of HTS single-cell screening data.