PhD position: Genetic analysis of recombination events and their contribution to genetic variance

PhD position: Genetic analysis of recombination events and their contribution to genetic variance

Published Deadline Location
16 May 7 Jun Wageningen

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Job description

Are you interested in animal breeding and genetics, analyzing genomic and phenotypic data, or understanding the origin of genetic variation? Do you have a background in animal or plant breeding, quantitative genetics, genomic data analysis, or another quantitative field? And do you want to pursue a PhD at one of the leading international universities in the fields of healthy food, the living environment and agriculture? Then you are the candidate we are looking for!

The PhD candidates will be employed at a newly funded NWO-AES project CrossOver: “Utilizing the full potential of crossovers in animal breeding”. The CrossOver project aims to empirically quantify the contribution of crossover counts to additive genetic variance, and the potential of selecting explicitly for crossover counts in animal breeding programs.

Individuals differ in the number of crossovers that they transmit to their offspring, and the crossover count is at least partly heritable. It is well known that crossovers contribute to genetic variation that is exploited in selection in species that reproduce sexually. This contribution is, however, not yet quantified. The CrossOver project aims to empirically quantify this contribution based on data from pigs. In order to do this, models will be developed and validated within the project.

You will be involved in:
  1. Developing, validating and applying new methodology to estimate the contribution of crossover counts to additive genetic variance.
  2. Detecting crossover events in a large pig dataset.
  3. Empirically investigating the relationship between the number of crossovers and other traits that have been under ongoing selection based on a large pig dataset from a routine breeding program.
  4. Estimating the effect of recent selection on the crossover count and predicting the effect of future selection on crossover counts in pigs

Results of the CrossOver project will show whether commercial breeding companies should explicitly target the crossover counts in breeding programs in order to serve long-term sustainable breeding goals. This can for example be the case when previous selection and/or the current breeding goal lead to indirect selection responses of the crossover count in an undesired direction, or when increasing the crossover count via selection leads to increased additive genetic variation of other breeding goal traits, and thereby can increase the potential rate of genetic gain for those traits.

You will work here
The research is embedded within the chair Animal Breeding and Genomics, which is led by Prof.dr. MAM Martien Groenen. You will be co-supervised by Dr. Yvonne Wientjes, WUR and Dr. Mario Calus, WUR.


Wageningen University & Research


Candidates should have:
  • A Master’s degree in a relevant quantitative field (Quantitative genetics, Statistical genetics, Statistics, Bioinformatics, or something related).
  • A strong interest in fundamental and applied research;
  • A strong interest in animal genetics;
  • A strong interest in statistical genetic analysis;
  • Some experience with computer scripting (e.g. bash, Python, Linux, R);
  • Be creative and innovative;
  • Good organisational and communication skills in English (written and spoken), as well as a; proven ability to collaborate with others;
  • Willingness to travel internationally, to attend international project meetings and conferences and visit other institutes. In the first year the candidates will spent some time at the University of Li톐ge (Belgium) to collaborate with Dr. Tom Druet.

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.
The gross salary for the first year is € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3.247,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 18th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.
Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling. For instance under the "30% rule", certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary


Wageningen University & Research

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Agriculture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • P1228309-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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