Project proposal details

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Project title
An increasingly complete phylogenetic tree of Coleoptera (beetles) from metagenomic sequencing of tropical insect communities
Contact name
Alfried Vogler
Project based at
Natural History Museum
Project description
Possibly several million species of beetles still remain to be discovered and described, in particular in tropical forests. High-throughput sequencing methods are now speeding up this process of biodiversity discovery, and at the same time DNA sequences place each species in an evoluationary context. This project will draw on mass trapping of beetles in several tropical forests around the world, which are then subjected to metagenomic sequencing and genome assembly. This procedure readily creates the mitochondrial genomes for all species in the mixture, which then can be used for phylogenetic tree construction to give a phylogenetic fingerprint of each local sample, relative to the overall phylogenetic tree obtained from all samples. Students can be involved in this project primarily in the bioinformatics procedures and phylogenetics, but for longer projects (9 months) there is a possibility to conduct sequencing and imaging of entire tropical beetle communities. Details of the wider project are at This project is suited for students with interest in tropical forests as well as bioinformatics and phylogenetics.
Date uploaded

Project proposal limitations

The project proposer has indicated that there are some limitations to the availability of this project. It may only be available at certain times of year or suit a specific project length. It may also need skills taught to students on a particular course or courses.

Research project proposals are usually part of an active research programme. If supervisors have stated limitations to a proposal, then they are unlikely to have any flexibility. If you are very interested in the topic but have problems with the stated limitations, the supervisor may still be happy to talk to you about other options around the proposal, but you should not expect that any alternative arrangements can be made.

Project length limitations
3.5 months, 5 months, 9 months
Available date limitations
Winter (January), Spring (April-May)
Suitable for
Ecology Evolution and Conservation, Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution (MSc), Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution (MRes), Ecological Applications, Tropical Forest Ecology MRes, Taxonomy and Biodiversity [NHM MSc], Biosystematics [NHM MRes]