2 PhD positions in the field of C1-carbon metabolism of anaerobic micro-organisms: Netherlands

We are looking for two enthusiastic PhD candidates with strong interest in microbiology, specifically on the application of omics approaches (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics) to study the microbial physiology of anaerobes. The candidates should have a good background in microbiology, strong motivation, good communication skills and ability for teamwork and cooperation.

Project 1 – Methanol metabolism of sulfate-reducing bacteria

Methanol is an excellent substrate for microbial growth in many different environments. Anaerobic methanol degradation is well studied in methanogens and acetogens. However, methanol is not a known common substrate for sulfate-reducing bacteria. Only a few sulfate reducers are described to be able to utilize methanol, which include some Gram-negative (Desulfovibrio) and Gram-positive (Desulfotomaculum) bacteria. Recently, we performed a proteomics study, which revealed that Desulfotomaculum kuznetsovii possesses two methanol-degrading pathways: involving a methyltransferase system and a methanol dehydrogenase. We aim to further describe these pathways and to study the methanol metabolism of other methanol-utilizing sulfate-reducing bacteria, including the isolation of novel anaerobes from different environments (including extreme environments). This research is also of practical importance as sulfate-reducing bacteria can be exploited in sulfur biotechnology to remove sulfur and metals from waste streams.
This project is part of the Gravitation Research Program SIAM – Soehngen Institute of Anaerobic Microbiology ( The PhD project will be developed at the Laboratory of Microbiology at Wageningen University & Research (WUR).

Project 2 – Novel biocatalysts for syngas conversion

The diversity of anaerobic carboxydotrophic microorganisms (i.e. microorganisms that can use CO as carbon and energy source) is largely underestimated, and a small number species are known to utilise CO. Many of these species are susceptible to high concentrations of CO and/or show low conversion rates, which become limiting factors for the development of biotechnological processes. In addition to this, the spectrum of products that can be naturally produced from CO by pure cultures of available microorganism is rather narrow. In this project we want to characterize the metagenome of environments in which CO is potentially present (e.g. volcanos, thermal vents) and to target the isolation of novel microorganisms able to use this compound. Thermophilic microorganisms have higher substrate conversion rates than mesophiles, and will be given preference in this project.
This project is part of the Perspectief Program MicroSynC – Novel Approaches for Microbial Syngas Conversion to Chemical Building Blocks. The PhD project will be developed at the Laboratory of Microbiology at Wageningen University & Research (WUR).

We ask

You are an ambitious and result-driven researcher, and a team player devoted to research and education in a highly international and interdisciplinary academic environment.


  • Master in Biology, Biotechnology or Microbiology.
  • Knowledge of molecular methods and microbial physiology is essential.
  • Experience in on bioinformatics, genome and transcriptome/proteome analyses is an advantage.
  • Fluency in English (both spoken and written). For international applicants (non-native English speakers) it is necessary to have: TOEFL internet-based 90 with a minimum of 23 for speaking, or IELTS (academic version) 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 for speaking.
  • Good communication and presentation capabilities.

 We offer:

We offer you the opportunity to obtain your PhD in 4 years by giving you a temporary position for a period of 1.5 years with extension of 2.5 years after successful evaluation. Gross salary per month € 2266,- in the first year rising up to € 2897,- per month in the fourth year.

We not only offer a competitive salary but also good (study) leave and a pension of the ABP Pension Fund.

For More information

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Diana Z. Sousa, associate professor,  telephone number +31 317483107.
For more information about the contractual aspects, please contact Mrs. J. van Meurs, HR advisor, telephone number +31 317480101.

You can apply online at up to and including December 15th 2018.
Applications sent by email will not be considered.

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