A 18 months post-doctoral position is opened at the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de
Montpellier to study sexual selection in plants in the context of the SEXMATE project funded by the University of Montpellier (MUSE Tremplin ERC program to Jeanne Tonnabel).
Despite evidence that sexual selection operates in plants, direct tests of fundamental concepts from the theory of sexual selection are still lacking for the plant kingdom. The main barrier preventing the development of a uniform and integrative theory of sexual selection including plants lies in the lack of estimation and experimental manipulation of the central parameter of sexual selection thinking – the number of mating partners, i.e. mating success. Studies in plants have primarily focused on proxies for mating success, such as pollinator visits or number of ovules sired. Yet, the link between these variables and mating success remains entirely unexplored. Problematically, the most attractive plants to pollinators may even fail at exporting pollen to mates if they monopolize pollinator visits (thus reducing the number of pollen recipients). Arguably, the presence of a third party in the operation of sexual selection – the pollinator – certainly introduces a level of complexity that warrants attention, but it
should be evaluated in terms of its effect on plant mating success.
The SEXMATE project aims at (1) providing a comprehensive test of the theory of sexual selection in plants, and (2) understanding the specificities of the operation of sexual selection in plants.
The recruited researcher will carry out two experiments of the project on the model species
– The first experiment will test a central prediction of the sexual selection theory formulated
by ‘good-genes’ models. It will ask whether plants that perform better to access sexual
partners also display a better overall condition, with potentially important implications for
plant conservation. This first experiment will use quantitative genetics to estimate genetic
correlations between mating success, sexually-selected traits and fitness traits.
– The second experiment will investigate the link between the density of pollinators, and the
intensity of sexual selection which may bring about different outcomes on male and female
functions. This second experiment will also decompose episodes of sexual selection
occurring in the phase of pollen dispersal to mates versus when pollen compete to access
ovules within pistils. This experiment will involve observations of pollinator behaviour in
controlled conditions, as well as paternity analyses using microsatellite genotyping.
The candidate should hold a PhD in evolutionary biology with a solid background in this discipline, have demonstrated expertise at least in one of the following topics: sexual selection, mating systems evolution, or plant evolution, and have a publication record corresponding to his/her experience. The candidate should show a strong motivation both for undertaking experiments and reading conceptual papers on sexual selection. Candidates with expertise in large experiments in plants, quantitative genetics, and/or statistics are particularly welcome.
Candidates must be at ease with insect manipulations (e.g. bumblebees, flies).
Good skills in English both for writing and oral communication are required.
The position will be held at the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier (ISEM – UMR
5554). ISEM offers a very dynamic and stimulating scientific environment for studying
evolutionary biology with an excellent scientific animation, and various actions directed towards young researchers. Experiments will be performed on the nearby CNRS campus at the Centre D’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CEFE – 5175) which offers excellent plant growing facilities. Regular scientific meetings will also be held at the CEFE with collaborators of the project (Dr. Patrice David and Prof. Mathilde Dufaÿ). Montpellier is a city located near the sea in South of France with both a great cultural life and various nearby natural environments.
The net salary per month will be ~ 2200 euros.
Appointment is for 18 months with a possibility to extend the contract (pending funding
For more informations on the research group:
How to apply
Please send to Dr Jeanne Tonnabel ([email protected]) a CV, a cover letter describing your interests for the project and associated skills, two contacts information for references.
Deadline for application
Deadline for application is 8 th of October. Interviews will be held on the week of the 18 th of October.
The starting date will be January 1 st 2022.