Assegno di ricerca: Milan and Pavia, Population genomics of ticks and their bacterials symbionts

Assegno di ricerca: Milan and Pavia, Population genomics of ticks and their bacterials symbionts

Milan and Pavia, Population genomics of ticks and their bacterials symbionts

Ticks are recognized as the most important vectors of diseases in Europe, but their distribution is changing and expanding. Ticks of the genus Ixodes, in particular, are widespread in the continent, with
multiple species being competent vectors of highly impactful diseases, from the viral tick-borne encephalitis to the chronic, debilitating and hard to diagnose Lyme disease. Additionally, due to their peculiar and nutritionally unbalanced blood-based diet, ticks live in tight association with nutritional bacterial symbionts (e.g., Midichloria mitochondrii).

This project will introduce a novel approach to study populations of Ixodes ticks, in particular Ixodes ricinus. Specifically, we will establish a novel triangulated population genetic approach. Leveraging
a set of tick specimens collected across the European continent, for each specimen we will determine the full mitochondrial genome, a representative set of nuclear SNPs by RAD-Seq, and a set of typing
loci for the bacterial symbionts.

Thanks to this approach, ticks will be characterized at an unprecedented detail, allowing us to answer basic evolutionary biology and demography questions on ticks, including the consistence between genetic and morphological diversity, and the role of geographical boundaries in the tick diversification. Moreover, the relationship between the Ixodes ricinus and other co-occuring congeneric species will be explored, as well as the transmission modes (vertical or horizontal) of symbionts through Ixodes populations. The knowledge that will be generated will lay the foundation for novel, data informed, efforts for tick monitoring in Europe.

The hired candidate will be involved in a friendly and collaborative research environment.  In particular, this project will be carried out in synergy with multiple research groups at the University of Milan and
the University of Pavia, Italy, namely research groups of Claudio Bandi (Milan), Davide Sassera (Pavia), Antonio Torroni and Anna Olivieri (Pavia).

The candidate should have a strong interest and background in evolutionary biology and population genetics. Since the role of the hired personnel in the project will be focused strictly on in silico analyses, previous experience in computational biology, in particular in population genetic and genomic analyses, will be a preferential selection criterion.

Period: starting in early 2024, duration 1-2 years (flexible) Title: flexible for Pre- or Post-Doc, depending on the applicants' profiles.
Please send your CV, the names and contact information of two references as well as a letter of interest to both the contacts below:

Claudio Bandi
Davide Sassera

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