Arnaud Gaigher

I have a major interest in the fields related to conservation and evolutionary biology. I am particularly focused on the use of genetics and molecular biology as powerful tools for studying the evolution of species and populations, in particular in a conservation framework.
During this thesis, I will be focused on the genetics of a beautiful bird, the barn owl (Tyto alba), for which there is still much to discover. My work on this species will be structured around two areas of research.
- First, I will be working on the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) system, whose genes play an essential role in the immune response and display an extraordinary diversity. Thus the MHC appears as a system of choice for studying adaptive genetic variability. With a 454 amplicon sequencing approach, MHC class II B exon 2 and class I exon 3 genes will be sequenced in about 1,400 barn owls sampled throughout Europe and in different years. This is not an easy task. Indeed, although the 454 technology seems to be the best suited sequencing method for studying MHC system, the distinction between true alleles and errors generated during PCR and sequencing can be difficult. After the delicate but necessary sorting phase, the aim will be to assess MHC diversity to study patterns of MHC variation (both spatially and temporally) in this species. In addition, a lot of information related to the individuals fitness is available. It will be interesting to examine the association between these parameters and MHC diversity, for instance between a particular allele, MHC diversity and heterozygosity and a fitness-related trait.
Thus, this research offers interesting perspectives for understanding still debated selection mechanisms that shape MHC diversity.
- In addition, during this thesis I am interested in the worldwide molecular phylogeography of this species (for which samples from around the world have been sampled in museum collections).

Born on December 18th, 1987 in Epinay-sur-seine (93), France

2012 –
PhD student in Luca Fumagalli’s group, Laboratory for Conservation Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Lausanne

2010 – 2011
Master research in “Ecology, Biodiversity, Evolution” speciality “Conservation Biology” at the University Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI)
Internship: “Measurement of gene flow between brook lamprey and river lamprey populations” under the direction of G. Evanno and S. Launey, UMR ESE INRA-Agrocampus Ouest, Rennes (Feb – Jul 2011)

2009 – 2010
1st year of Master’s degree in “Ecology, Biodiversity, Evolution” at the University Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI)
Internship: “Reproductive isolation between the brook lamprey (Lampetra planeri) and the river lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis)” under the direction of G. Evanno, UMR ESE INRA-Agrocampus Ouest, Rennes (Mar – Jul 2010)

2008 – 2009
Licence in “Biology of Organisms” at the University of Rennes 1

2006 – 2008
Studies in Biology at the University of Rennes 1

Personnal interests

Sport (running, cycling and tennis)
“The biodiversity”

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