Candidate genetic polymorphisms for behavioral traits (with Dr. Jakob Mueller)
We are interested in the genetic architecture of personality traits and circadian behaviour in wild bird populations. Field data about such behavioural traits are currently collected. A first step is the search for candidate genes and polymorphisms potentially related to the trait of interest. Database and literature searches are performed to compile a list of candidate genomic regions (exons, promoter regions, etc.), which can then be tested for potential polymorphisms in the study population. The students will apply bioinformatic tools to extract appropriate database information and to design PCR primers for non-model species. These oligonucleotides will be used to PCR amplify and sequence the target region from avian DNA samples. In a second step the complete sample will be genotyped for the detected polymorphisms and statistically tested for association with the behavioural trait variation. In a wider perspective, the observation of significant associations will eventually help to explain the maintenance and adaptive value of genetic diversity in wild populations.