PhD scholarship within environmental microbiology, Norway

The Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science (KBM) at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has a vacant 3 year PhD position within environmental microbiology.

The successful candidate will be anchored in the NMBU Nitrogen group, which consists of members from the research group Microbial Ecology and Physiology at KBM and partners at the Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management (MINA).

The KBM faculty is located at Ås Campus, 30 km south of Oslo, and has approximately 130 employees spread over 11 research groups, with focus on microbiology, microbial ecology, fundamental and applied enzymology, enzyme discovery, and bioprocessing technology, The current project entails research collaboration with other groups at KBM, as well as two international partners.

The NMBU Nitrogen group is a mid-sized (20-25 people), dynamic research group spanning two NMBU faculties. We have ongoing collaborations with several strong research groups at universities across the world (Europe, USA, China, New Zealand) and with national and international industries.

Research project

The project title is Phenotypic diversification in denitrifying bacteria, mechanisms, prevalence and implications, short name Dephend. It is financed by the Norwegian Research Council (NRC) through the prestigious FRIPRO Young Research Talents program. In this project, they will take a deep dive into the physiology of prokaryotes that reduce nitrate and nitrite to N2 via NO and N2O using a set of four core enzymes. It is important to understand because these organisms are responsible for most of the N2O emission to the atmosphere. Meanwhile, they also carry nature’s only enzyme for reducing N2O to harmless N2. Hence, their regulatory biology effectively controls the emission of N2O to the atmosphere. The group have discovered a phenomenon where genetically identical cells in the same culture choose to synthesize different sets of the denitrification enzymes. This is the first time that such bet-hedging has been demonstrated in the regulation of prokaryote respiration. It is important because such bet hedging organisms help to reduce the emission of N2O to the atmopshere : when facing hypoxia, a minority of the population carries NIR+NOR, the N2O source, whereas all carry N2OR, the N2O sink.

The PhD candidate will work closely with the project leader and other members of the group, with access to state-of-the-art infrastructure for microbiology and molecular biology, and unique incubation robots for monitoring the kinetics of O2 NO, N2O and N2.

Main tasks

As part of the project, the candidate will study the respiratory physiology of denitrifying prokaryotes (mainly bacteria) through :

  • Molecular manipulations of selected strains
  • Gas kinetics and gene expression in model organism(s) and mutants under a range of conditions
  • Fluorescence microscopy and microfluidics
  • Proteomics of denitrifying cultures

The successful candidate is expected to enter a plan for the progress of the work towards a PhD degree during the first months of the appointment, with a view to completing a doctorate within the PhD scholarship period.

Academic qualifications

The successful applicant must meet the conditions defined for admission to a PhD programme at NMBU. The applicant must have an academically relevant education corresponding to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are at master’s degree level. The applicant must have a documented strong academic background from previous studies, and be able to document proficiency in both written and oral English.

For more detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations and the relevant PhD programme description.

The applicant must document expertise and interest in the research subject (microbiology).

Required Academic qualifications

  • The successful applicant must hold (or expect to complete within August 2018) a master’s degree within a relevant scientific area

Desired Academic qualifications

Candidates experienced in one or more out of the following will be preferred :

  • Molecular techniques
  • Fluorescence microscopy and image analyses

Desired traits and skills :

  • Curiosity and high motivation for research
  • Accuracy and patience with experimental work
  • Strong communication skills, both written and oral
  • Analytical skills
  • Interest and ability to collaborate closely with supervisors and partners
  • Ability to work independently
  • Flexibility, robustness and staying power

NMBU offers :

  • An optimistic academic institution with focus on professional development, dissemination and competence.
  • An interdisciplinary and inclusive environment that provides exciting research- and development opportunities.
  • Daily contact with inspiring students and skilled colleagues.
  • Various welfare schemes.
  • Beautiful surroundings just outside Oslo.
  • Possibility for a place in a private kindergarten

Further information

For further information, please contact Dr. Linda Bergaust

E-mail :; phone +47 67232449

Further details
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