Research opening: Adaptive responses of an aquatic vertebrate to chemical pollution

Photo by Debbie Payton, OR&R, HMRD.
Fish Kill along Hwy 73
9/30/2005   Port Arthur, TX

Research opening: Adaptive responses of an aquatic vertebrate to chemical pollution

Deadline: December 23, 2016

Location: KU Leuven (Leuven)

Reference: (Ref. BAP-2016-596)


For the Laboratory of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Genomics we are looking for a highly motivated scientific colleague to join a multidisciplinary and challenging project.


Adaptive responses of an aquatic vertebrate to chemical pollution

The Laboratory of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Genomics specialises in research on the evolutionary biology of fishes and their parasites. We have a long tradition of field-based and experimental research with the stickleback model.

Relevant papers include:

  • Konijnendijk N., Shikano T., Daneels D., Volckaert F.A.M., Raeymaekers J.A.M. (2015) Signatures of selection in the three-spined stickleback along a small-scale brackish water freshwater transition zone Ecology and Evolution 5, 4174-4186
  • Chaturvedi A., Raeymaekers J.A.M., Volckaert F.A.M. (2014) Computational identification of miRNAs, their targets and functions in three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Molecular Ecology Resources 14: 768-777
  • Raeymaekers J.A.M., Konijnendijk N., Larmuseau M.H.D., Hellemans B., De Meester L., Volckaert F.A.M. (2014) A gene with major phenotypic effects as a target for selection vs. homogenizing gene flow. Molecular Ecology 23: 162-181
  • Konijnendijk N., Vandeuren S., Jacquemin L., Volckaert F.A.M., Raeymaekers J.A.M.. (2013) Testing for local co-adaptation in the Gasterosteus-Gyrodactylus host-parasite system Evolutionary Ecology Research 15:489-502
  • Raeymaekers J.A.M., Lens L., Van den Broeck F., Van Dongen S., Volckaert F.A.M. (2012). Quantifying population structure on short timescales. Molecular Ecology 21, 3458-3473
  • Raeymaekers J.A.M., Wegner K.M., Huyse T., Volckaert F.A.M. (2011) Infection dynamics of the monogenean parasite Gyrodactylus gasterostei on sympatric and allopatric populations of the three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus Folia Parasitologica 58: 27-34
  • Raeymaekers J.A.M., Raeymaekers D., Koizumi I., Geldof S., Volckaert F.A.M. (2009). Guidelines for restoring connectivity around water mills: a population genetic approach to the management of riverine fish. Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 562-571.


Website unit



Despite chronic exposure to contaminants at levels known to elicit toxicities in naive-animal models, fish populations may thrive at highly polluted sites. Such resistance may involve either intra-generational physiological acclimation or inter-generational genetic adaptation. On the other hand, adaptation doesn’t always occur in those situations where it might be expected. While there is a large body of research on acute and chronic toxicant responses in terms of acclimation within generations, the effects of multi-generational exposure on adaptive responses is less well understood and among others requires relevant exposed wildlife populations. The focus of our proposal involves the identification of the genetic and molecular mechanisms that underlie evolutionary processes following multi-generational exposure to biologically relevant chemical pollutants. Model organism is the three-spined stickleback. The project requires skills in (molecular) biology, biostatistics, breeding, data banking, IT and academic writing.



  • Master in Biology, Applied Biology or the equivalent with outstanding study results
  • Strongly motivated to work in a multidisciplinary team
  • Obligation to prepare a doctoral thesis within 4 years
  • Interest in fish biology and molecular biology
  • Ready to participate in field work and lab experiments
  • Experience with evolutionary genomics
  • Strong writing skills
  • You will apply for an FWO+fellowship in September 2017



We offer an attractive working environment in an internationally renown research team with excellent opportunities for learning.

The KU Leuven ( is the largest university of Belgium with a research intensive mission.

Leuven ( is a fine small academic town with a high standard of living and a large academic population.



For more information please contact Prof. dr. Filip Volckaert, tel.: +32 16 32 39 72, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than December 23, 2016 via the online application tool


Downloads : pdf

Kunlere Idowu

Kunlere is an environment and sustainable development strategist with years of active experience in environmental compliance monitoring and enforcement. You may follow him on Twitter via @kunlere_idowu


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