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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

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Internship position

30 September 2022

Genetics of adaptation to heat stress in laying hens.

Context of the internship

The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE) is a world leader in agricultural and food sciences, plant and animal sciences. Its research aims to build solutions for multi-performing agriculture, quality food and sustainable management of resources and ecosystems. The joint research unit Physiology, Environment and Genetics for Animals and Livestock Systems (UMR Pegase) is located in Brittany, 10 km from Rennes, in Saint-Gilles. INRAE and Institut Agro agents carry out research and provide training in animal biology and breeding systems. Within the unit, researchers from the Genetics and Genomics team study the genetic background of the adaptation of laying hens to innovative and sustainable rearing environments.
In Europe, the majority of laying hens are raised in alternative systems to cages (55% of hens raised in 2022). These systems imply a decrease in the farmer's control over their environment and therefore an increased risk of both degradation of the average quality of the environment and perturbations of the environment. These two types of environmental degradation will require two components of adaptation: robustness and resilience respectively. In the summer of 2022, an intense heat and drought disturbance hit Europe. Laying hens are particularly sensitive to heat stress.


The heat wave event of summer 2022 allows us to study the genetic determinism of the adaptation of laying hens to heat stress. Data were collected on farm temperature and humidity, and on the laying performance of laying hens of two breeds (Rhode Island and White Leghorn) and several lines within each breed.
The student's mission will be to calculate adaptation indicator traits of laying hens to heat stress, and then to study the genetic parameters of these indicators, meaning :

  1. to estimate their heritabilities;
  2. to estimate their genetic correlations with other production traits;
  3. identify regions of the genome that contribute to the constitution of these traits and that could harbor causal mutations (e.g. GWAS: Genome Wide Association Study).

This internship is an opportunity to discover research in animal genetics, and to learn the scientific approach by: identifying the question to be addressed, conducting bibliographic research, data analysis (e.g. R), and genetic calculations (e.g. ASREML), writing a scientific paper and participating in the research team daily life.

Profile and skills required

  • Interest in genetic improvement of adaptive capacities of farm animals
  • Interest in data analysis
  • Agricultural engineer or Master's degree. Internship possible.
  • Possibility to do this internship in English.

Reception and contact details

  • Internship allowance: approximately 570 € per month (according to the minimum hourly rate in effect in January 2023)
  • Place of the training course: INRAE, UMR Pegase, 35590 Saint-Gilles, in cooperation with the Novogen breeding company
  • Lunch is available at the INRAE restaurant at a subsidized rate
  • Possible access by public transport from Rennes
  • Duration / period desired: 6 months from January to June 2023.
  • First contact by email only (nicolas.bedere[at] with CV and cover letter.