Barghi lab

Most quantitative traits are polygenic with many loci that contribute to the phenotype. After a sudden change in the environment which results in change in the trait optimum, many loci need to change in their frequencies so that the population reaches the new optimum. This is polygenic adaptation and I am interested in understanding its genetic basis. 

Genetic redundancy, an intrinsic characteristic of polygenic adaptation, results in multiple alternative genetic pathways that all converge at the new phenotypic optimum. Therefore, the inferred basis of polygenic adaptation might differ among populations. Moreover, the intensity of environmental shift affects the genetic basis of adaptation. I am interested in the effects of genetic redundancy and environmental shift on the inferred genetic basis of adaptation. 

I use experimental evolution in Drosophila to study the genetic basis of traits such as thermal tolerance and body size in replicated selection experiments taking advantage of time series phenotypic and allele frequency data.



Want to work with us? We're hiring a PhD student

Principal advisors: Neda Barghi and Christian Schlötterer


Both temperature mean and temperature fluctuations have important roles in thermal adaptation. Recent studies suggest that adaptation to mean temperature and fluctuation in temperature are distinct traits but their genetic basis and distinct effects of these selective pressures, i.e. constant and fluctuating temperature, on thermal adaptation are still largely unknown. 


This project aims to characterize genomic regions involved in thermal adaptation and to dissect the genes responsible for adaptation to either higher mean temperature or fluctuating temperature. This work will take advantage of 30 replicates of Drosophila simulans evolved for over 100 generations in two temperature regimes (constant 23°C and fluctuating between 18 and 28°C).


You will have the opportunity to investigate two traits, i.e. adaptation to mean temperature and fluctuation in temperature, by combining time series Pool-Seq data, gene expression profiling and phenotypic assays.

Preferred skills

  • Background in experimental or computational fields such as bioinformatics, evolutionary genetics, or experimental population genetics
  • Experience in programming (Python/R)
  • Good oral and written communication skills

Why do your PhD with us?

We offer 

  • 1 month intensive course in population genetics
  • Weekly seminar series with internationally renowned experts in the field
  • International and interdisciplinary environment
  • Vienna is among the most liveable cities in the world


Send CV, names and contact information for 2 professional references, and a motivation letter with a statement of research interests to neda.barghi 'at' and Christian.Schloetterer 'at' until March 31, 2020

Salary: EUR 2,162.40 before tax, based on Austrian Science Fund (FWF)


Related literature

Barghi, N. et al. Genetic redundancy fuels polygenic adaptation in Drosophila. PLoS biology 17, e3000128, doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3000128 (2019)

Mallard, F., Nolte, V., Tobler, R., Kapun, M. & Schlötterer, C. A simple genetic basis of adaptation to a novel thermal environment results in complex metabolic rewiring in Drosophila. Genome Biology 19, 119, doi:10.1186/s13059-018-1503-4 (2018)

Schlötterer C. et al. Combining experimental evolution with next-generation sequencing: a powerful tool to study adaptation from standing genetic variation. Heredity 114, 431-440 (2015)

Orozco-terWengel, P. et al. Adaptation of Drosophila to a novel laboratory environment reveals temporally heterogeneous trajectories of selected alleles. Molecular ecology 21, 4931-4941, doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05673.x (2012)



Barghi Lab
Institute of Population Genetics

1210 Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1

T +43 1 25077-4339
F +43 1 25077-4390

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