PhD in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi ecology: Greece/Germany

University of Thessaly, Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Lab of Plant and Environmental Biotechnology, Greece and INOQ GmbH, Germany are offering a PhD scholarship in soil microbial ecology and plant-microbe interactions with expected commencement May 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. The PhD will be awarded by the University of Thessaly, Greece. This is a 36-month position available through the MSCA-ITN-H2020 project ARISTO (The European Industry – Academia Network for Revising and Advancing the Assessment of the Soil Microbial Toxicity of Pesticides).

Project title: Assessing the toxicity of pesticides on natural soil and plant assemblages of AMF

Project description: Pesticide toxicity on soil microorganisms is insufficiently evaluated as yet, due to the lack of recognized key microbial indicator. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) represent the most ubiquitous plant symbiotic microorganism that associate with almost 80% of plant species in beneficial interactions that can promote plant growth, and resilience to stresses. At the ecosystem level, AMF could affect the composition and productivity of plant communities with reciprocal effects on nutrient cycling, which in turn has an impact on soil microbiota. Thus, AMF have been identified as key species indicators for soil microbial toxicity of pesticides. Natural AMF soil assemblages will be used to develop assessment protocols in experimental lab and field tests. The effects on the AMF diversity will be determined by developing suitable molecular profiles at the highest possible resolution by amplicon NGS, by qPCR protocols and microscopy protocols at a soil community level. The impact of pesticides directly to AMF or via the plant host will also be evaluated. The experimental process will involve collaboration with other fellows’ projects providing a holistic assessment of the soil microbial toxicity of pesticides on AMF.

Principal supervisor: Prof. Kalliope Papadopoulou,, +30-2410565244 and Dr Carolin Schneider, , +0 58 42-98 16 72

Planned secondments: to BAYER CropScience, Germany, Supervisor: Dr M.T. Marx, 3 months, Purpose: to setup collaborative soil microcosms (with INOQ and UTH) pesticide toxicity assays with AMF

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 program (Relevant skills: experience with AMF, plant biology, microbial ecology, bioinformatics, biostatistics, experience on pesticide analytics will be a merit)
  • Previous research publications
  • Other professional activities
  • Language skills: fluency in English

Place of Employment

  1. University of Thessaly, Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Laboratory of Plant and Environmental Biotechnology, Larissa, GREECE  (Month 1 to 18)
  2. INOQ GmbH, Solkau 2, 29465 Schnega, GERMANY (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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