PhD in agricultural science and bioengineering: Belgium/Greece

Université catholique de Louvain and Phytothreptiki SA, are offering a 36-month PhD scholarship in agricultural science and bioengineering with expected commencement March 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. The PhD will be awarded by the Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium). This job is part 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: In vitro assessment of the toxicity of pesticides on AMF

PhD Project description: Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are key soil microorganisms associated to the vast majority of agricultural and horticultural crops, improving their growth and resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses. They are thus of wide importance in agricultural practices. At the same time, they seem to be responsive to pesticides, being negatively affected by them. The specific objectives of the PhD project will be (i) to establish, optimize and standardize a fast-track in vitro system to evaluate the toxicity of a broad-range of pesticides on AMF using a variety of specialized testing systems for AMF in vitro cultivation, (ii) to explore the impact of pesticides on functional attributes (i.e. transport of minerals) of AMF, (iii) to explore the mechanisms of toxicity. This is expected to lead to the establishment of first low-tier screening test for the soil microbial toxicity of pesticides using AMF as key microbial bioindicators.

Principal supervisors: Prof. Stéphane Declerck,, and Dr Myrto Tsiknia,,

Planned secondments: INOQ (Germany), Supervisor: Dr C. Schneider (2 month). Purpose: to explore the potential development of a commercial AMF-based kit for testing microbial toxicity of pesticides

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: agricultural sciences, microbiology, molecular biology, knowledge or experience on plant-microbe interactions will be a merit)
  • Previous research publications
  • Other professional activities
  • Language skills: fluency in English

Place of Employment

  1. Université catholique de Louvain, Earth and Life Insitute, Laboratory of mycology, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
  2. Phytothreptiki SA, Aspropirgos, Greece

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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