Universitair nieuws

Course Ethnobotany

The new course Ethnobotany will start June 7 (period 6) at the WUR.
Details are given in the study guide. For the schedule click here.

The science of Ethnobotany deals with traditional plant use by people in the past, present and future. This course will deal with theoretical aspects, qualitative and quantitative research methods and excursions to tropical gardens and migrant markets. Students will learn how to document traditional knowledge, get acquaintanced with key concepts like cultural keystone species, doctrine of the signatures, traditional medicine and non-timber forest products. During excursions, they will practise with interviewing people on traditional plant use.

The course is taught by Professor Tinde van Andel, Naturalis chair in Ethnobotany at Biosystematics, Wageningen University.
For more information click here.

What is Ethnobotany?ethnobotany

Master project – 6 months (flexible) at IBED, UvA

Chemical perception in Monarch butterflies – is smell changed in parasitized butterflies?
Monarch butterflies are commonly infected with the protozoan parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha.
This parasite is detrimental to monarchs, reducing survival, adult lifespan and flightability. Monarchs become infected with this parasite when ingesting infective spores as caterpillars. The parasite then grows inside the caterpillar and pupa to form millions of dormant
spores on adult butterflies, which are shed during oviposition to cause new infections. Previous work has shown that milkweeds, the host plants of monarch caterpillars, contain chemicals called cardenolides that reduce parasite infection. Other studies have also shown that infected females prefer to lay their eggs on milkweed with higher concentrations of cardenolides, which makes their offspring less sick. This project aims to determine whether the altered oviposition choice is due to different chemical perceptions of infected and uninfected monarchs.
Techniques to learn will include electrophysiological experiments, chemical analyses and behavioral experiments. If infected butterflies indeed show altered chemical perception, possible follow-up experiments include qPCR experiments with olfactory receptors.

For more information:
Dr. Astrid Groot
Dr. Jaap de Roode
On sabbatical at IBED-UvA until August 2016:
Science Park 904
1098 XH Amsterdam
tel: 020 5255400
email: a.t.groot@uva.nl, jderood@emory.edu

Monarch butterfly1

Master project in Versaille, France ‐ 6 months, paid
Characterization of a candidate gene for pheromone differentiation in a moth
Moths possess a unique sexual communication system: females attract conspecific males by using species‐specific sex pheromones. Due to this fine‐tuning, the development of novel pheromone systems is an evolutionary mystery. This project will focus on the model insect
species to understand the evolution of sexual communication: the European Corn Borer, Ostrinia nubilalis which consists of two sex pheromone strains. The gene underlying pheromone variation in females was identified (Lassance et al. 2010). However, the gene underlying preference in the males is not identified yet. We conducted many genetic analyses and have identified a specific locus at the Z‐chromosome, which contains a highly interesting candidate gene that is involved in neurogenesis in other species. The aim of this project is to characterize this candidate gene, using in situ hybridizations and CRISPR/Cas9.

Technical skills/methods to learn:
1) in situ hybridization to localize the gene in the brain and/or the antennas, and to associate the gene with the olfactory receptors (ORs) that are involved in sex pheromone perception.
2) Functional characterization of the candidate gene, using targeted transgenesis with the CRISPR/Cas9 complex.

Antennal segmentAntenal segment with double in situ hybridization of two olfactory receptor genes (OnubOR6 and 4)

We are looking for a highly motivated student with BSc degree in biology and experience in molecular biology. Experience on insects’ manipulation and physiology are a plus. This project is a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam (Institute for Biodiversity and
Evolutionary Dynamics, IBED), Netherlands and the Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in Versailles, France. Therefore, communication skills in English (oral and written) are necessary and knowledge of French is a plus. There will be a monthly salary of 550 euros, for every complete month worked, for 6 months maximum. The salary is paid by the Institute of Ecology and Environnemental Sciences (iEES) ‐ Paris, France, with the obligation for the student to administratively subscribe to the iEES (no subscription fees).

Supervisor contact information:
Fotini Koutroumpa, PhD, Marie Curie Skłodowska postdoctoral Fellow
Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystems Dynamics (IBED), University of Amsterdam
Science Park 904, 1098 XH Amsterdam
Phone: +31 20 5255400
Fax: +31 20 5257832

Address in France
INRA of Versailles – UMR 1392 ‐ iEES‐Paris
RD 10 ‐ route de Saint‐Cyr, 78026 VERSAILLES Cedex
Tel : 0033 (0)1 30 83 31 63
Fax : 0033 (0)1 30 83 31 19