Job announcement
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University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology

PhD -  seasonal acclimatization of red deer

Application deadline: 01.03.2017
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The Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, invites applications for a

PhD position (f/m) on polyunsaturated fatty acids and seasonal acclimatization of red deer

Many small mammals cope with coldand limited food supply during winter by abandoning the energetically costly maintenance of a high body temperature (Tb) and entering hibernation or daily torpor. We found similar reactions in several non-hibernating ungulates, except that Tb changes were substantial only in peripheral body parts. Hibernators prepare for life at low Tb by increasing the proportion of omega-6 linoleic acid (LA), an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA),in phospholipids (PL). The calcium pump of the sarcoplasmatic reticulum (SERCA)works faster in such membranes.Therefore, cold-induced retardation of SERCA is diminished in LA-richmembranes and sufficient pumping power for normal muscle function is maintained despitelow Tb. In contrast, high contents of highly unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids in phospholipids slow SERCA activity down, but may boost that of key enzymes forsupplying energy to the cell in theform of ATP. These specific effects of PL-PUFA on membrane-bound proteins suggest seasonal changes of fatty acid composition of membranes that is largely independent of direct dietary intake.

The proposed study shall investigate effects of PUFA on seasonal acclimatization in red deer, a model species for large seasonal non-hibernating mammals. We will, for the first time, disentangle experimentally the role of dietary and photoperiodic origin onchanges in membrane PL composition and its effect on membrane-bound enzymes. We expect to find profound consequences of seasonal acclimatization at this molecular level on thermoregulation and energetics of the whole organism. Our approach is a longitudinal study on a herd of red deer kept under close to natural conditions, but subjected to a feeding experiment manipulating availability of food, of dietary supply of PUFA, and of photoperiodic control of seasonal acclimatization. Analyses of the fatty acid composition of membranes, expression and activity of key membrane-bound enzymes in muscle cells sampled repeatedly from winter and summer acclimatized deer will be combined with continuous measurement of heart rate as an indicator of metabolic rate, core and peripheral Tb, and locomotor activity of the deer with an approved telemetry system.

Your profile: We are looking for a highly motivated candidate for a PhD project studying seasonal acclimatization at the molecular and organismic level of red deer. We welcome candidates holding a masters or equivalent degree at the point of enrollment in biology or similar backgrounds (e.g. veterinary medicine, biochemistry). We expect good knowledge of animal physiology/biochemistry, of English, and writing skills. We welcome experience and training in analytical methods of biochemistry, of experimental work with animals, an independent and thorough working style, and the ability to work in a team.

Our offer: The PhD position is fully funded for 3 ½ years and available from April 1st, 2017. The salary will be paid according to a level of employment of 30 hours per week, i.e. EUR 2045.10 gross per month, plus two bonus months making 14 payments per year. The candidate will enroll within thePhD program of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna that offers a dedicated teaching program. The project is located in a stimulating high quality research environment with outstanding research facilities. The research will be undertaken at the Research Institute of Wildlife Biology under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Walter Arnold.

Application:Please submit applications with two names of references and contact information via e-mailto walter.arnold@vetmeduni.ac.at. Application deadline is March 1st, 2017.

The University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna is an equal opportunity employer and iscommitted to increasing the participation of women in its research activities and to employing more individuals with disabilities and especially encourages them to apply. As a family-friendly institution, we are committed to further the compatibility of work and family life and prefer disabled applicants when qualification is equal.


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