mercredi 25 juillet 2012


Biodiversity Research Centre – Earth and Life Institute - Université catholique de Louvain (UCL)


Project on molecular evolution of olfactory communication under sexual selection in a butterfly, Bicyclus anynana

A two-year postdoctoral position is available at the Earth and Life Institute, University of Louvain-la-Neuve (UCL) in Belgium ( The position is part of a collaborative 5-year research project on the role and mechanisms of plasticity for present and future adaptation and survival in changing environments using 4 model organisms (two butterflies Pararge aegeria and Bicyclus anynana, the spider mite Tetranychus urticae and the unicellular eukaryotic ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila). The research project is a collaboration between 3 dynamic research teams at UCL (Profs. Hans Van Dyck (spokesman), Nicolas Schtickzelle and Caroline Nieberding) and their international partners.  

Focus of the advertised Postdoc position will be on the identification of the molecular bases for olfactory communication evolution between males and females in the model butterfly Bicyclus anynana. The male sex pheromone has been identified in this species and is under sexual selection (1,2), and large-scale diversification of the Bicyclus genus is associated to sexual selection on the male blend (3). Recently, a transcriptome was produced for investigating the molecular bases of male-female olfactory interactions which provides material for candidate genes analyses in an ecologically relevant framework (4). The postdoc will be in charge of the molecular work for candidate gene identification and validation, aiming at unravelling the molecular bases of olfactory communication and of its plasticity in the first butterfly studied to date. Importantly, a molecular technician will be hired for the same period of time and will be partly dedicated to process the lab work for the postdoc. This position is under supervision of Prof. C. Nieberding (UCL) who works in collaboration with Dr. P. Beldade (Gulbenkian Institute of Science, IGC, Portugal). In addition to his/her main research project on Bicyclus, the successful applicant will also  participate in helping to design other molecular projects (transcriptome ananalyses) related to Pararge butterflies and Tetrahymena ciliates in collaboration with Profs. Van Dyck and Schtickzelle. There are possibilities for extension of the postdoc position on alternative national or international funding in case of shared interest.

We are looking for a strongly motivated candidate with a PhD in the field of Molecular Evolutionary Ecology with successful experience in RNA work, candidate gene searching and quantitative real time PCR. Interest or experience in olfactory communication, sexual selection, phenotypic plasticity and Lepidoptera are a plus. Strong written and oral communication skills are essential. 

Salary ranges between 2000-2200 euros net per month plus benefits (health insurance,…) which are included in the Belgian system. The successful applicant must not have stayed in Belgium more than 24 months out of the last three years. For practical information concerning salaries, benefits, insurances and conditions of eligibility please contact Mrs. D. Socquet at UCL (; +32 (0) 10 47 2720). Applications will be reviewed directly until position is filled. Anticipated start date is September-October 2012 (to be negotiated). Our University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer, and is in a French-speaking region, but the language for meetings and scientific interactions is English. For background information about our university, see  

Application should be sent to Caroline Nieberding ( and include the following: (1) a cover letter describing your research interests and qualifications, (2) a full CV, (3) contact information (email, phone number) of minimum 2 referees, and (4) pdfs of up to three representative publications. Please include « postdoctoral application » in the subject line of the e-mail. Informal inquiries are welcome.

(1) Nieberding C, Schneider MV, de Vos H, Lassance JM, Estramil N, Andersson J, Bång J, Hedenström E, Löfstedt C, Brakefield P (2008) -PLoS ONE 3(7):e2751.
(2) Nieberding C, Fischer K, Saastamoinen M, Allen C, Wallen E, Hedenström E, Brakefield P (2012) Ecology Letters 15: 415–424 
(3) Bacquet* P, Brattström* O, Wang H-L, Löfstedt C, Brakefield P, Nieberding CM (in prep) Male sex pheromones, sexual selection and diversification in the Bicyclus butterflies genus.
(4) Nieberding CM, Noirot C, Klopp C, Beldade P (in prep) Transcriptome analysis of olfactory communication in the butterfly Bicyclus anynana