News


We usually have MSc and BSc thesis projects available. Feel free to contact any lab member for more information.


September 2020

PhD position in Evolutionary Ecology (4 years)100 %

Does selection for disease resistance vary along an elevation gradient?

Theory predicts resistance to evolve under pathogen-imposed selection, yet evidence for pathogen-mediated selection to generate the observed diversity in resistance has remained scarce. Biodiversity and ecosystem productivity increase toward low latitudes and elevations, generating corresponding increases in the intensity of species interactions. However, the evolutionary consequences of such variation in the intensity of species interactions are largely unknown.

The aim of this PhD project is to study resistance variation in Plantago lanceolata across an elevation gradient in Alpine populations in Switzerland through a combination of field transplantation and laboratory inoculation experiments, and through an analysis of variation in resistance-relevant genes.

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD position to study the evolution of disease resistance in natural plant populations by combining ecological, evolutionary and molecular approaches. Motivated students with a MSc degree in evolutionary biology, ecology, molecular biology, plant biology, or other related fields are encouraged to apply. Prior expertise in experimental design, statistical analysis, population genomics or bioinformatics are a bonus, but your most important assets are enthusiasm for research, motivation to learn new things, and ability to work independently while being an active member of a research team.

The working language is English. German skills, although helpful, are not essential.

The project is supervised by Prof. Anna-Liisa Laine and Prof. Andreas Wagner at the University of Zurich. The Laine Lab has broad expertise in studying the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of species interactions in natural populations (e.g. Laine et al. 2019 eLife, Halliday et al. 2020 Nature EcoEvo). The Wagner Lab is broadly interested in evolution and life’s fundamental organizational principles, with ongoing work in the lab ranging from the directed evolution of enzymes to laboratory evolution in E.coli and computational analyses of genetic networks (e.g., Zheng et al, Science 2019; Payne and Wagner, Science 2014).

The city of Zurich is regarded as having high quality of life and standard of living with remuneration to match. During hot summers the lake, river, and many outdoor pools provide cooling opportunities, and the close-by Alps cater for many summer and winter outdoor activities. Local and regional (Europe) rail networks meet at Zurich’s main train station and provide convenient and low environmental-impact travel to many European cities. The city’s international airport is convenient when required.

How to apply:
please send a single (!) PDF file merged from the following parts to Jacqueline Moser:

  • CV (with possible publications included)
  • a copy of your academic transcript records
  • contact details of two references (e.g. MSc thesis supervisor)
  • a cover letter (MAX 1 page) with a description of your researcher interests and why you would be a suitable candidate for the project

Place of work

Irchel Campus, University of Zurich, Zurich

Start of employment

Applications will be considered until the position is filled. The position is available from January 1, 2020.


July 2020

Open Post doctoral positions

Four postdoctoral positions are currently open at REC. Apply by August 16. More information here.


July 2020

Congratulations to Layla for a successful PhD!

PhD candidate Layla Höckerstedt successfully defended her thesis ‘Evolutionary and ecological dimensions of disease resistance’ with Prof Åsa Lankinen (SLU) as her opponent and the thesis was Passed with distinction.
Click here to access her E-thesis


June 2020

Field research featured in the local newspaper Haldensteiner Bote

The fieldwork done in summer 2019 on the Calanda mountain was showcased in the local newspaper Haldensteiner Bote.


October 2019

Short video series on biodiversity

We published a series of ten short videos about environmental change and biodiversity. The episodes cover what biodiversity is, who benefits from it, who studies it, how they study it, what threatens it and what we can do about these threats.

The videos are aimed for school children between ages 11-16 and the content of the videos was brainstormed together with teachers in order to come up with a format that would suit the target audience. Click here for more information.

Click here to see the videos.


July 2019

Funding for research aiming to develop climate smart agricultural practices

Our consortium proposal ‘MULTA: Multi-benefit solutions to climate-smart agriculture’ led by Prof. Jari Lisk received funding from the Strategic Research Council (Academy of Finland).

The food system is facing a need for a systemic change to harness its significant potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions while producing healthy food sustainably to a growing population under changing environmental conditions.

A promising future direction is to promote management practices that enhance the ability of soils to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide. Regenerative agriculture supports also other sustainability goals, such as soil health and productivity, biodiversity, water quality, resilience and food quality.


A rupturing powdery mildew fungus particle, releasing sexually produced spores. Image credit: Laine et al. (CC BY 4.0

18 June 2019

Research featured

Our article ‘Variable opportunities for outcrossing result in hotspots of novel genetic variation in a pathogen metapopulation’ was featured on the eLife Digest forum.
Link to story.

Laine, A-L., Barrès, B., Numminen, E. & Sirén, J. 2019. Variable opportunities for outcrossing result in hotspots of novel genetic variation in a pathogen metapopulation. eLife 8:47091.