Job ID: 53836

PhD Student position

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 30 June 2021

Employment Start Date: 1 July 2021

Contract Length: 2 years minimum

City: Regensburg

Country: Germany

Institution: Regensburg University

Department: Neurobiology and Animal Physiology/ Neurophysiology

Description:

PhD position, salary according to 50-66% TVL-E13, for 3 years, starting July 2021 or later.

Your task:

  • work on innovative and demanding scientific project (see below)

Your qualifications:

  • a MSc degree in biology or physics or related subjects, with grade ≥ 2.5
  • analytical thinking, independent problem-solving
  • interest in method development/refinement; ideally, prior experience in electrophysiology
  • very good skills in English (both in speaking and writing)

 

We offer:

  • an interdisciplinary environment within a motivated and internationally renowned team
  • access to modern methods of cellular neurobiology (e.g. two-photon imaging/uncaging)
  • further career development via structured graduate program RIGeL www.rigel-regensburg.de and DFG-priority program (scientific meetings, workshops etc.)

 

The project is funded by the new priority program 2205 ‘Evolutionary optmisation of neuronal circuits’ of the DFG (German Research Foundation). In tandem with the lab of Dr. Silke Sachse, MPI for chemical ecology Jena, the project aims to unravel the cellular basis of anisotropic lateral inhibition in the rat olfactory bulb and fly antennal lobe, a feature that is highly relevant for olfactory coding. In the olfactory system, complex inhibitory circuits modulate the impact of sensory neuron input and mediate interactions between second order principal neurons. These pathways are assumed to regulate olfactory sensitivity depending on behavioural state, synchronize neural subnetworks, and enhance the spatial contrast of representations via decorrelation of similar response patterns. The architecture of the underlying network anatomy is astonishingly similar across insects and vertebrates – a prime example of convergent evolution.

We aim to clarify the cellular basis of defined inhibitory interactions across phylae, based on predictions inspired by findings in the respective tandem lab. More specifically, we will investigate anisotropic lateral inhibition which allows for directed interactions between individual glomerular channels that in the fly might be even hard-wired. In the rat the main candidates for the cellular substrate of anisotropic inhibition are long-range interneurons in the glomerular layer which feature intriguing so far unknown circuit motifs (Bywalez, Ona-Jodar et al. 2017) and whose synaptic interactions will be studied in detail with whole-cell recordings, high-resolution imaging and uncaging techniques. We will establish imaging of binary mixture coding in our semi-intact nose brain preparation similar to the fly, and reduce ansiotropic interactions via laser ablation. We ultimately aim to assign specific inhibitory interactions to defined interneuron types in both rat and fly and integrate the these result into a new generic network model of the convergent olfactory system, in collaboration with other members of the priority program with computational/circuits expertise.