Gene Regulation in Evolution: From Molecular to Extended Phenotypes (GenEvo)

GenEvo is a DFG funded Research Training Group organised in a collaboration between the faculty of biology of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB). The initiative is centred around the core question of how complex and multi-layered gene regulatory systems have evolved. It will bring together scientists with expertise in evolutionary and molecular biology to train a new, interdisciplinary generation of PhD students and to solve innovative research questions. The initiative involves twelve outstanding researchers from JGU's biology department and IMB.


Prof. Susanne Foitzik
Institute of Molecular and Organismic Evolution

Prof. René Ketting
Institute of Molecular Biology

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

What we do

Phenotypic variation between individuals and species is largely driven by differences in gene expression and arises from, among other things, natural selection. Gene expression is regulated via sequence- and non-sequenced-based mechanisms, including cis-regulatory DNA elements, transcription factors, non-coding RNAs, DNA methylation, histone modifications, and other posttranscriptional and posttranslational processes. The relative contribution of these factors in gene regulatory networks as well as the processes underlying their evolution are, so far, poorly understood.

The scientific aim of GenEvo is to gain a better understanding of the evolution of complex and multi-layered gene regulatory systems. We will investigate which regulatory processes are evolutionarily conserved, which are prone to change and which selective regimes they underlie. By transferring methods developed for model species to other taxa, we will study gene regulatory evolution in a broader intra- and interspecific context. Some projects will even focus on the coevolution of gene regulation, by revealing how interacting species interfere with each other’s gene regulation. 

GenEvo will bring together scientists from evolutionary and molecular biology with the aim of solving a number of innovative research questions and to train a new, interdisciplinary generation of PhD students in subjects that are rarely taught in combination: evolutionary inference, epigenetics, gene regulation, omics techniques and bioinformatics.

What we offer

GenEvo is a structured programme offering high quality training to 60-80 PhD students. 14 positions are offered in the summer call 2019, with a registration deadline of 22 May 2019 (application and reference letters until 27 May) and personal interviews of selected candidates from 24 - 26 June.

GenEvo students will have several tiers of supervision including a PhD Buddy and an interdisciplinary thesis advisory committee.

Student assistants will be available to support them with routine work in the lab.

They are offered contracts including health insurance and social security. 

GenEvo will provide broad scientific training including scientific lectures and practical courses on a wide range of state-of-the-art research methods. They are complemented by essential professional skills preparing students for the next step in their career.

The programme offers annual student symposia and retreats and a summer school, fostering networking across all groups.

Fellowships for conference travel are available.

GenEvo students will benefit from structures of the already established International PhD Programme (IPP) on Gene Regulation, Epigenetics & Genome Stability with 120 students from 30 nations.

How to apply

Open positions are described in detail in the category "Evolution & Gene Regulation" of the IPP application website. In order to apply, please follow the instructions as described on this website. Please apply online and register before 22 May 2019

Applications will be evaluated in a 4 step selection process. Pre-selected candidates will be invited to personal interviews taking place 24 – 26 June 2019 in Mainz. Costs for travel and accommodation will be covered by the programme.

The start of the PhD project would ideally be in autumn (1 October) 2019. Individual wishes for an earlier or later start can be negotiated.