9 PhD positions in Microbial Ecotoxicology: ARISTO project

Nine PhD positions in Microbial Ecotoxicology are now available as part a new European Union Horizon 2020 project, called ARISTO.


Brief description about ARISTO

ARISTO is an International Training Network (ITN) funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement. Pesticides are major environmental pollutants. For this reason, the European Commission has imposed a stringent pesticide regulatory scheme for pesticides authorisation, where risk assessment for aquatic organisms and terrestrial macro-organisms is well defined. In contrast the assessment of the toxicity of pesticides on soil microorganisms is lagging behind, still relying on an outdated protocol which fails to identify effects on key microbial functions and on microbial diversity, which can now be accurately determined through advanced and standardized methods introduced in soil microbiology in the last 10 years. EFSA identified soil microorganisms as an attribute to monitor during pesticides environmental risk assessment and stressed the need for novel tests to assess the toxicity of pesticides on soil microorganisms.

The ARISTO project will fulfil this scientific and regulatory gap through a unique doctoral program, based on the strong interaction of academia and industry, aiming to train the next generation of Microbial Ecotoxicologists. These will produce benchmarking knowledge supporting the development of advanced tools and procedures, based on the response of key microbial indicator groups, for the comprehensive assessment of the toxicity of pesticides on soil microorganisms. ARISTO offers doctorate fellows a challenging training program build along 5 research objectives:

  1. to develop pioneering in vitro tests, as a first conservative step, to assess the toxicity of pesticides on distinct ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  2. to develop advanced lab and field tests to assess the toxicity of pesticides on natural soil assemblages of AOM and AMF, as a more realistic toxicity assessment step
  3. to develop an ecosystem-level toxicity assessment looking at pesticide effects at microbial networks and across different trophic levels along the soil food web (predator – prey)
  4. to develop novel tools to determine the soil microbial toxicity of pesticide mixtures, and bio-pesticides
  5. to develop and validate advanced in silico tools for prioritizing pesticide transformation products with potential toxicity to soil microbes.


Available PhD positions:


Ideal candidate:

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


Please visit the individual PhD position webpages for more information on the project, supervisors, application procedure etc.

Deadline for all applications is 20th of January 2021

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