PhD in soil microbial ecology: France/Switzerland

Institut National de la Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement (INRAE), Dijon, France and Syngenta Crop Protection AG, Switzerland are offering a PhD scholarship in soil microbial ecology with expected commencement May 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. The PhD will be awarded by the University of Bourgogne, France. This is a 36-month PhD fellowship provided 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: Studying the toxicity of pesticides on soil microbial networks

Project description of the PhD student: In nature, microorganisms are assembled into complex and diverse communities in which subpopulations are intertwined by different types of interactions. Therefore, a toxic pesticide will not only directly affect the vulnerable microbes but also indirectly those they are interacting with. This can lead to cascading effects in the soil microbial network, which can potentially affect ecosystem functions. The objectives of the PhD student are to identify (i) indicator groups within bacterial and fungal networks of the pesticide’s impact and (ii) keystone members whose response to pesticides will have major impact on the maintenance and function of microbial networks. This work will bring novel concepts in community assembly for a high-resolution evaluation of pesticides toxicity using microbial networks as potential bioindicators for higher tier risk assessment. Specifically, the PhD student will perform lab experiments with soil microcosms for assessing the impact of pesticides on microbial co-occurrence networks and soil functions using a range of molecular tools (e.g. amplicon sequencing, qPCR) and advanced biostatistics and bioinformatics analytical methods. The experimental process will involve collaboration with other fellows’ projects providing a holistic assessment of the soil microbial toxicity. The project involves secondments to other partners as described below.

Principal supervisor: Dr Laurent Philippot,, +33-3 80 60 33 46 and Dr Claudio Screpanti,,

Planned secondments: (i) to Swedish Agricultural University, Sweden Supervisor: Prof. S. Hallin, 1 month, Purpose: co-analysis of data on microbial networks with other fellows (ii) to Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Germany, Germany, Supervisor: Dr A. Chatzinotas, 1 month Purpose: collaborative experiments with other fellows

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: 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. Syngenta, Syngenta Crop Protection AG, Research Biology, Stein 4332, Switzerland

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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