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EGS-ABG : European Graduate School in Animal Breeding and Genetics

Genetics of seasonal timing in the great tit (Parus major)

Nr : 3-WU-SLU

Topic :
Genetics of seasonal timing in the great tit (Parus major)

Host Institutions :
Wageningen University (The Netherlands)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden)

Summary :
The rate at which organisms can adapt to climate change is one of the key factors determining the degree of biodiversity loss. One of the key ecological impacts of global climate change is that it has led to clear shifts in seasonal timing, a prime example of a phenotypically plastic trait in which environmental variables, in interaction with the genetic background, determine the trait value. The focus of this project will be phenotypic plasticity in the passerine bird the great tit (Parus major). The aim is to identify genomic regions involved in a number of traits including egg laying date, clutch size, weight at 15 days, tarsus and hatchability of eggs using an association study on a population of 4000 female birds measured for these traits and genotyped with 675,000 SNPs distributed evenly across the genome. Because genetic correlations between traits under selection could constrain evolutionary change, genetic correlations will be estimated between the traits measured in these birds, using actual relatedness instead of pedigree-based relatedness. Within the project you will also analyse the 4th generation of the two selection lines, currently being produced, to identify the regions under selection. The complete genome sequence of the founder animals of the selection lines will be available, which allows a detailed analysis of the underlying genes and genetic variants under selection. The project requires excellent skills in quantitative genetics and bioinformatics.

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