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Environnement & Hypofertility

Postdoctoral position in ecophysiology, IRBI, Tours, France

The “Institut de Recherche sur la Biologie de l’Insecte” (IRBI) at the University François Rabelais (Tours, France) is searching for a qualified candidate for a 2-years postdoctoral position. The candidate will contribute to an ongoing project on stress ecophysiology of reproduction. This project is supported by a French national funding (ANR).

The observation of a rapid decline in male reproductive quality is becoming a major societal concern for two main reasons. (1) This decline appeared to affect humans making this effect a worldwide public health problem, (2) it can have negative consequences on the world food production by reducing the reproductive capacities of species of agronomic importance, such as pollinators and biological control agents. Causes of male reproductive quality decline are multifactorial, most likely involved environmental changes such as the increasing exposure to anthropogenic chemicals and thermal stresses associated with global warming. Similarly, mechanisms responsible for the decrease in spermatogenesis are not wholly elucidated.

Although invertebrates constitute the vast majority of the animal kingdom, little effort has been made to evaluate the environmental consequences of chemicals inducing endocrine disruption or temperature global changes on their reproductive abilities. In parasitic wasps, different biotic and abiotic factors applied during male development to have the same consequences: reduced sperm stock and fitness. In haplo-diploid species like parasitoids, the female ability to produce daughters depends on the availability of sperm stored in her spermatheca after mating and successful insemination. Therefore, parasitic wasps appear to be an excellent candidate for analyzing the effects of environmental stresses on male functions. They are natural enemies of a broad range of arthropods with medical, veterinary and agricultural significance. More particularly, the wasp Nasonia vitripennis presents several advantages: first, the complete genome sequence and the iRNA tools are available. Second, due to the rapid development of this organism, the consequences of different environmental perturbations on fertility, reproductive success and F1 population dynamics are easy, cheap and fast to measure.

The main objectives of this project is therefore to determine the mechanisms responsible for the observed decrease in fertility of N. vitripennis males when submitted to a chemical and a thermal stress, presented either separately or in combination. Additionally, an ecotoxicogenomic approach at the transcriptomic level will allow us to characterize the gene expression variations associated to these perturbations and identify the genes pathway controlling male functions. The function of candidate genes will then be studied under these environmental perturbations. Our long-term ambition is therefore to propose N. vitripennis as lab-sentinels of potential effects on hymenopterans and a comparative model for the study of spermatogenesis regulation in mammals.

Candidates should meet the following requirements: (1) have a PhD in reproduction, ecology, physiology, or a related field; (2) have an experience in transcriptomic data analyses and a certified background in molecular biology and bioinformatics (3) be creative and independent, and (4) have a good track record of publications. Candidates are welcome to come with their own ideas provided they are feasible during the time frame of the project.

The post-doctoral student will be recruited by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in the laboratory IRBI (Tours, France) and will be supervised by Charlotte Lécureuil. The position is available for a period of two years starting at best in April 2015. Salary is in the range €20,000–28,000 per year depending on experience.

Applications should include a CV and a one-page cover letter that contains a short description of the candidate’s research interests and postdoctoral goals and a list of at least two references familiar with the applicant’s qualifications and experience. To apply, please submit your application to Charlotte Lécureuil (charlotte.lecureuil@univ-tours.fr). Requests for further details about the position are welcome.

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