PhD fellowship in Microbial Ecology: Germany/France

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ and HYDREKA, are offering a PhD scholarship in microbial ecology with expected commencement May 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. The PhD will be awarded by the University of Leipzig, Germany. This is a 36-month PhD fellowship offered in the frame of the MSCA-ITN-H2020 project ARISTO – The European Industry – Academia Network for Revising and Advancing the Assessment of the Soil Microbial Toxicity of Pesticides.

PhD project title: Assessment of pesticides impact on microbial function in a soil food-web context

Project description: Most studies have assessed the toxicity of pesticides either on individual bacterial taxa and functional groups separately or in the context of a biochemical pathway, ignoring the ecological dimensions of the effects observed. The project will look into the impact of pesticides in a microbial food web context. Specifically, the focus will be on interacting trophic levels, including bacteria, predatory microbes (e.g., protists) and viruses. In this frame, lab microcosm studies of different complexities will be established. The responses of interacting trophic levels upon pesticide exposure and the cascading effects on the dynamics, diversity and adaptation of both predator and prey levels and on related soil ecosystem functions will be followed using microbiological, stable-isotope, molecular biological (amplicon sequencing, genomics, metagenomics, q-PCR, FISH, SIP) and analytical methods as well as biocomputational and statistical tools. The experimental process will involve collaboration with other fellows’ projects and secondments to other beneficiaries and partners as described below.

Principal supervisor: Prof. Antonis Chatzinotas,, +49 341 2351324 and Dr. Cédric Malandain, +33 472 531153,

Planned secondments: (i) to National Collection of Industrial Food and Marine Bacteria (NCIMB), United Kingdom. Supervisor: Dr. C. Philipps, 1 month. Purpose: Select bacteria for the microcosm studies and training on their cultivation; (ii) to Institute National de la Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement (INRAe), France. Supervisor: Dr A. Spor, 1 month. Purpose: Perform network analysis of the microcosm data

Key criteria for the assessment of candidates

  • A master’s degree related to the subject area of the project
  • The grade point average achieved should be more than 75 % of the maximum
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD programme (Relevant skills: microbiology, microbial ecology, molecular biology, bioinformatics, statistics knowledge and experience in ecology theory is considered a merit)
  • Previous research publications
  • Other professional activities
  • Language skills: fluency in English

Place of Employment

  1. Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Department of Environmental Microbiology, Group Microbial Interaction Ecology, Leipzig, Germany  (Month 1 to 18)
  2. HYDREKA – BU Environmental expertise, Lyon, France (Month 19 to Month 36)

Formal requirements and eligibility for all available positions
At the time of commencement, it is required that the candidate shall at the date of recruitment, be in the first four years (full time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. Furthermore, the candidate must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the countries where the hosting organizations are located for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.

Terms of employment
Recruitment and Terms of appointment will be done according to the rules and regulations of the hosting institutions and according to the rules and regulations laid down by European Union’s Horizon 2020 Marie Curie Initial Training Networks. The stipend includes a living allowance (3270 €, adjusted by a country correction factor), mobility allowance (600 €) and family allowance (500 €), the latter allowance depending on the family status of the fellow. All PhD fellowships available involves a split PhD studentship between an academic and an industrial partner, while the fellow will also spend time to other partners through short secondments.

Application Procedure
The application, in English, must be submitted by email to the supervisors of each advertised position and the coordinator of the project You are encouraged to apply for more than one of the available positions. In this case please indicate the position for which you are applying.

For your application please include

  • Motivation Letter, stating which PhD project you are applying, why you want to pursue a PhD career in academic and industrial sectors, and to what extent does the given project complies with your skills and ambition
  • A statement if (and which) you have applied for other ARISTO PhD fellowships
  • Full CV including studies, research experience, work experience and publications if any
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
  • 3 professional referees (Name, address, telephone & email)
  • Documentation of English language qualifications
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