PhD candidates: Untangling the Evolution of a Balanced Lethal System

PhD candidates: Untangling the Evolution of a Balanced Lethal System

Published Deadline Location
4 Jun 21 Jun Leiden

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Leiden University, the Institute of Biology Leiden at Leiden University and Naturalis Biodiversity Center are looking for PhD candidates: Untangling the Evolution of a Balanced Lethal System

Job description

Balanced lethal systems represent an evolutionary enigma as they cut reproductive output in half. Different lethal alleles on two distinct forms of a chromosome compensate each other. Hence, both chromosome forms, including their linked lethal alleles, are required for survival. The most illustrious balanced lethal system is chromosome 1 syndrome, observed in the genus Triturus (the marbled and crested newts). All adults invariably possess two forms of chromosome 1, 1A and 1B. Yet, according to the rules of Mendelian inheritance, 50% of offspring produced is homozygous (possessing two copies of either 1A or 1B). These homozygotes die roughly halfway normal embryological development – half of Triturus embryos never hatch! All we currently know about chromosome 1 syndrome derives from classical karyological studies. In two PhD projects, the candidates will determine the genomic basis of chromosome 1 syndrome. The topics that will be addressed are 1) Ancestral reconstruction of Triturus’ chromosome 1 at the point of origin of the balanced lethal system and distillation of the lethal factors; and 2) Comparative genomics of the balanced lethal system in Triturus with related but unaffected salamander species.

Key responsibilities
As PhD candidate you will be conducting and publishing scientific research in consultation with your doctoral thesis supervisor. Your key tasks include:

  • Execute the scientific research as detailed in the project description;
  • Publish results in scientific journals and a thesis;
  • Participate in conferences;
  • Follow the Leiden University Graduate school programme for PhD candidates.


Leiden University


  • Master degree in biology with proven experience in bioinformatics;
  • Laboratory skills: DNA/RNA extraction and library preparation for NGS;
  • A good command of the English language and proven writing abilities;
  • Highly motivated and capable of working both independently and as part of a team.

Conditions of employment

You will be employed at the Institute of Biology Leiden of Leiden University. We offer a one year term position with the possibility of an extension of 3 years based on need, funding and performance. The salary range is from € 2.325 to €2.972 gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), as well as training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at:


Universiteit Leiden

Leiden is a typical university city, hosting the oldest university in the Netherlands (1575). The University permeates the local surroundings; University premises are scattered throughout the city, and the students who live and study in Leiden give the city its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere.

Leiden University is one of Europe's foremost research universities. This prominent position gives our graduates a leading edge in applying for academic posts and for functions outside academia. More at


Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science of the University of Leiden is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are driven by curiosity to expand fundamental knowledge and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future. The research carried out at the Faculty is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organised in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,200 staff and almost 4,200 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

The Institute of Biology (IBL) is positioned in the Faculty of Sciences. The core business of IBL is to perform top quality innovative fundamental and strategic research that will lead to scientific progress, contribute to solutions for societal challenges, and generate industrial opportunities. The Institute is organised in three multidisciplinary clusters: Animal Sciences & Health, Plant Sciences & Natural Products and Microbial Biotechnology & Health. Presently, over 120 FTE (including postdocs and PhDs) are employed at IBL.

Naturalis Biodiversity Center is the Dutch national research institute and infrastructure on biodiversity and systematics. Employing over 100 researchers (including postdocs and PhD’s), the institute provides an innovative and integrated research and BA/MA program towards its core expertise comprising a whole array of disciplines, ranging from taxonomy, systematics, evolution, ethnobiology, biogeography, bioinformatics, and mineralogy. The infrastructure also provides the world’s fifth largest natural-history collection with more than 42 million specimens (also digitally accessible), and state of the art laboratories. These facilities include molecular, morphological/imaging, culture and geological facilities and geographic information systems and bioinformatics capacities. In addition Naturalis is one of the leading natural history museums worldwide, receiving over 400.000 visitors a year.


  • PhD positions
  • Agriculture; Natural Sciences
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2325—€2972 per month
  • University Graduate
  • 19-269



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