One MSc position is available for a motivated student interested in the study of population genomics and sex ratio of endemic gymnosperms. The MSc program will be pursued at the Biology Department of Laval University (https://www.bio.ulaval.ca/accueil/). The project is in collaboration with colleagues of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Universidad de Panama.
Population genomics of endangered Zamia species:
Recent estimates suggest that 65% of all cycads are endangered (Fragnière et al.2015, J. Biog.). Among Neotropical countries, Panama has a high endemism with 65% of endemic Zamia species (a total of 16-17 described for the isthmus, Taylor et al. 2012). Human development and poaching activities due to the ornamental value of the Isthmian Zamias are threatening the habitats where these plants naturally occur. As part of a long-term program to study the diversity of Panamanian zamias and their symbiont. We are looking for a motivated MSc student to study the species Zamia pseudoparasitica (https://villarreal-lab.ibis.ulaval.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2020/05/Bell-DoyonVillarreal.2020.NeotropicalNaturalist.pdf). This extraordinary plant is endemic to Central Panama and is the only strictly epiphytic gymnosperm. The species has been subject of intense attention from the media because of the recent discovery of its potential seed disperser ( https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2022/04/zamia-pseudoparasitica-panamanian-plant-seed-dispersal/629444/).
The proposed project consists in collecting, sexing (using molecular markers) and genotyping (using genomic approaches) populations of Zamia pseudoparasitica in the country. Additionally, the student will be contributing to the current efforts to assess endophyte diversity. Assessing the genetic diversity of the populations in the five known sites of Z. pseudoparasitica, will aid in understanding the genetic diversity and channel efforts to pursue genetic and demographic rescue of less diverse populations in Panama.
The successful candidate must have strong field skills and adaptability. We are looking for an individual who is highly self-motivated and can work independently and with interest in bioinformatics. Field and most lab work will be conducted in Panama, at STRI, while the student must take a few courses (some in French) at Laval University. Additionally, the student will be working at the Institute of Integrative Biology and systems of Laval University (http://www.ibis.ulaval.ca/).
To be considered, please send a single PDF file merged from the following parts: CV, academic transcripts, a statement of research interests not exceeding one page, and the name of two academic references to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications will be considered until September 15, 2022, or until the position is filled, whichever comes first. The position is available for the winter of 2023. Funding is available for 2 years: $ 17 000/year. More information on our working group can be found here: https://villarreal-lab.ibis.ulaval.ca