Evolution of gall wasps (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae)
Department of Entomology, Penn State
Background: Gall wasps comprise thousands of species that manipulate host plant development to create tumor-like structures, called galls, in which wasp larvae feed while being protected from predators and the outside environment. These galls exhibit diverse architectures and develop in specific locations on host-plant species depending on the wasp species that initiated the gall. While wasps are likely using molecular signals to alter plant development to generate these novel structures, the mechanisms are unknown. Through our NSF-funded project (grant number 1856626), we aim to shed light on the evolution of gall wasps and their galls, collect baseline data for understanding molecular mechanisms of gall induction, and to develop new tools for research on these wasps in North America. Opportunities are available for graduate students to pursue a combination of phylogenomics, taxonomy, informatics, genomics, transcriptomics, and chemical ecology with project PIs.
Qualifications: Interested students should have a passion for discovery, interest in biodiversity, strong background in biology, prior research experience, and, given the large scale of this project, good organization skills and attention to detail.
How to apply: Students will be based in University Park, PA and work with a team of project investigators including Drs. Andrew Deans, Heather Hines, John Tooker (all PSU), Seán Brady (Smithsonian), and Matt Buffington (USDA SEL). Prospective students should email a statement of interest and CV to Andrew Deans (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Heather Hines (email@example.com). Full application details can be found on the departmental website: https://ento.psu.edu/graduateprograms
Students who submit applications before December 15 will be given priority and will have a chance to be invited in an on-campus recruitment event in early February.
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