PhD Studentship – Evolutionary responses to ocean acidification – Liverpool, UK

PhD Studentship – Evolutionary responses to ocean acidification (University of Liverpool)

NERC UK Ocean Acidification fully-funded PhD studentship, University of Liverpool, School of Biological Sciences

Evolutionary responses to ocean acidification in free-living protests

Supervisors: Dr Mike Brockhurst, Dr Phill Watts, Dr David Montagnes

It is now widely accepted that anthropogenic climate change is occurring, and at a faster rate in the world’s oceans than anywhere else. An important open question is to what extent organisms will be able to evolve in response to climate change.

Some of the gross consequences for survival in an increasingly acidified ocean have attracted much attention, with particular focus on survival of calcifying species for example. However, the effects of acidification will extend more widely than the immediate physiological consequences of calcification. In particular, we have failed to appreciate the long-term evolutionary response to this selective pressure and the concomitant effect on intraspecific biodiversity, which can have a critical impact on persistence and thus ecosystem function.

To address the issue of pH-shift on evolution, we propose an experimental approach on a model system: we will use long-term selection experiments on standing genetic variation to determine the evolutionary response to acidification by the model marine protest Oxyrrhis marina – a common flagellate that demonstrates high levels of genetic, morphological and ecophysiological variation (Lowe et al. 2005, 2010). These experiments will reveal not simply the immediate impact of ocean acidification (i.e. the focus previous studies) but the potential consequences of this well accepted climate-change pressure on the evolution of life in the oceans, and thus the adaptability of our oceans to inevitable change.

This multidisciplinary PhD studentship will run alongside a larger NERC funded project (, and the student will benefit from training in: experimental evolution, molecular-genetic and genomic techniques, experimental design, statistics, and bioinformatics.

Informal enquiries to:
Mike Brockhurst or to Phill Watts

Positions available to UK citizens and EU nationals that have been resident in the UK for at least 3 years, and have at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or EU equivalent). Application details and further details on department and staff are available at:

Enquiries about application procedure to:

For more information on the experimental evolution lab and our research:

Lowe CD, Montagnes DJS, Martin L, Watts PC (2010) Patterns of genetic diversity in the marine heterotrophic flagellate Oxyrrhis marina (Alveolata: Dinophyceae). Protist, in press.
Lowe CD, Day A, Kemp SJ, Montagnes DJS (2005) There are high level of functional and genetic diversity in Oxyrrhis marina. J Eukaryot Microbiol 52:250-257.
Buckling A, MacLean RC, Brockhurst MA, Colegrave N (2009) The Beagle in a bottle. Nature 457:824-829, More information.

  • Reset


OA-ICC Highlights

%d bloggers like this: