PhD Studentship: The molluscan shell secretome: Unlocking Ca2+ pathways in a changing world

Dr Melody Clark (BAS, Cambridge)
Dr Valerie Smith (Scottish Oceans Institute, St Andrews)

Funding is already secured for this studentship. For more information, see, and for eligibility see

There is currently great concern over the acidification of the World’s oceans. In the 250 years since the onset of the industrial revolution, atmospheric CO2 levels have risen from 280 to 381 ppm and as a consequence, ocean pH has fallen from an average 8.16 to 8.05. Human-driven emissions of CO2 continue to rise at accelerating rates and within the last year or so have begun to outstrip even the most pessimistic of IPCC model scenarios. How will life in the oceans adapt to this changing environment? Concern has been particularly expressed about those organisms with heavily calcified shells, such as molluscs, as the ability to extract carbonate ions from sea water and incorporate into skeletal matrices will be compromised as pH decreases. Although there is a sophisticated understanding of calcium regulation in mammals, the processes in other species are very different and poorly understood. Data describing calcium pathways in non-model species are seriously lacking. This studentship will identify and study the genes involved in the calcium pathways of two bivalve molluscs, the Antarctic clam: Laternula elliptica and the temperate clam: Mya arenaria with the aim of understanding the consequential effects of living in an altered pH environment, in particular the trade-offs with the immune response.

This is a cross-disciplinary PhD. It will involve keeping animals in altered pH environments,
bacterial challenges, enzyme analyses and data-mining Next Generation sequence data for candidate genes with associated expression profiling and immunocytochemical work to localise cellular locations of gene.

This NERC PhD studentship is linked with the BAS Adaptations and Physiology group which examines how the genomes of different species influence their responses to environmental variation. As the studentship involves studying an Antarctic and a temperate mollusk, the chosen candidate must be prepared to spend significant amounts of time at both the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge AND the Scottish Oceans Institute in St Andrews. Fieldwork is not currently planned during the studentship. The ideal student will have an excellent degree in a relevant subject. Experience in physiology, immunology and analytical work would be an advantage as would a strong interest in genetics.

For further details about the British Antarctic Survey please see:

Applicants should include a cover letter, a CV and the e-mails of two referees.

Closing date for applications: 04 March 2011

Applications and enquiries should be addressed to:
Dr Melody Clark
British Antarctic Survey
High Cross, Madingley Road
Cambridge, CB3 0ET, UK

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