PhD in Soil Microbial Ecology: Greece/Israel

University of Thessaly (Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Laboratory of Plant and Environmental Biotechnology) and Metabolic Insights Ltd (Ness Ziona Industrial Park, Israel), are offering a PhD scholarship (36-month) in soil microbial ecology with expected commencement May 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. The PhD will be awarded by the University of Thessaly, Greece. This PhD position is offered 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 bio-pesticides on soil microorganisms

Project description: To date biopesticides including microbe-based pesticides and natural products (or botanicals) are gaining interest in the pesticide market. They are considered environmentally safe although solid evidence for their reduced off-target toxicity are still lacking. The project will (i) examine the hypothesis that bio-pesticides are non-toxic, or less toxic than synthetic pesticides, to soil microorganisms and (ii) assess the overall soil microbial toxicity of bio-pesticides on functional microbial endpoints. In this frame lab microcosm and field tests will be undertaken to examine the toxicity of a range of biopesticides (vs synthetic pesticides) on the overall soil microbial diversity and on functional microbial diversity (e.g. ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) using a range of molecular tools (amplicon sequencing, metagenomics, q-PCR), microscopy and advanced analytical methods. The experimental process will involve collaboration with other fellows’ projects providing a holistic assessment of the soil microbial toxicity.

Principal supervisors: Prof. Dimitrios Karpouzas,, +30-2410565294 and Dr G. Wittenberg,,

Planned secondments:

  • to Western Sydney University, Australia Supervisor: Prof. B. Singh, 2 month, Purpose: Get training on analysis of pesticide effects on the soil microbiome using advanced bioinformatic tools
  • to BAYER CropScience, Germany, Supervisor: Dr M.T. Marx, 1 month, Purpose: Get training on environmental risk analysis and calculation of toxicity endpoints

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, knowledge or prior experience to biopesticides 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. Metabolic-Insights, Ness Ziona, Israel (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

All beneficiaries of the ARISTO project wish our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of age, gender, race, religion or ethnic background. The deadline for applications is 20.1.2021. Applications received later than this date will not be considered.

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