PhD in soil microbial ecology: France/Germany

Institut National de la Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement (INRAE), Dijon, France and ECT Oekotoxicologie GmbH, Flörsheim am Main, Germany are offering a PhD scholarship in pesticide soil ecotoxicology with expected commencement May 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. The PhD will be enrolled in the doctoral school ‘Environments – Santé’ and will be awarded by the University of Bourgogne, France. This is a 36-month 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 the toxicity of pesticide mixtures on soil microorganisms

Project description of the PhD student: In soil, microorganisms are abundant and diverse and accomplish key functions supporting ecosystem services. They are interacting with other organisms living in soils forming complex interactions supporting soil foodweb. Exposure to pesticides applied to crops to control various pests can impact the abundance, diversity of activity of soil microorganisms as well as their interactions with macroorganisms. Although soil organisms are exposed to complex mixtures of pesticide residues, most of the studies to assess the ecotoxicity of pesticide towards soil microorganisms are still done in silo one active substance by one, not considering neither complex mixtures nor interactions with macroorganisms. Within this context, the two main objectives of the PhD student are (i) to identify and to develop methods, procedures and tools to assess the toxicity of pesticide mixtures on soil microorganisms and (ii) to assess the toxicity of pesticides on soil microorganisms and potential interactions with terrestrial macro-organisms. This work will be carried out under a lab-to-field experimental design with a two-tier scenario of exposure. Two microbial guilds (AOM and AMF) will be studied in details as well as their possible interactions with soil macroorganisms (arthropod or earthworm). Specifically, the PhD student will perform lab experiments with planted soil microcosms and field experiment for assessing the impact of pesticide mixtures on the abundance (qPCR), diversity (amplicon sequencing) and activity of these two microbial guilds and advanced biostatistics and bioinformatics analytical methods. The experimental process will involve collaboration with other fellows’ projects (notably ESR8 working on the assessment of the toxicity of biopesticides on soil microorganisms) to provide a comprehensive scheme of assess the ecotoxicity of complex mixtures of active substances of chemical and/or natural origin. This PhD fellowship involves secondments to other partners or beneficiaries as described below.

Principal supervisor: Dr Aymé Spor,, +33-3 80 69 30 94, Dr Marion Devers,, +33 80 69 xxxx (co-supervisor), and Dr Jörg Römbke, ECT Oekotoxikologie GmbH,,

Planned secondments: (i) to Syngenta, Supervisor: Dr C. Screpanti, 2 months, Purpose: training on pesticide risk assessment of data from pesticide mixtures experiments.

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: soil microbial ecology, bioinformatics, biostatistics, molecular biology)
  • Previous research publications
  • Other professional activities
  • Language skills: fluency in English

Place of Employment

  1. Institut National Recherche Agronomique (INRAE), Department of Agroecology, Dijon, FRANCE
  2. ECT Oekotoxicologie GmbH, Böttgerstasse 2-14, 65439 Flörsheim-am-Main, Germany

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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