Postdoc in Soil Microbial Ecology: Greece

The Laboratory of Plant and Environmental Biotechnology, Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, University of Thessaly is offering a Postdoc position in soil microbial ecology with expected commencement October 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. This position is available in the frame of an HFRI-funded project ReASSESS (Full Title: Revolutionizing the assessment of the toxicity of pesticides on Soil microorganisms: from single species tests to ecosystem approaches) which is a 36-month project and involves collaboration with partners in France, Belgium, Germany and Greece.

Brief Project Description

Pesticides are common environmental contaminants regulated by a stringent EU regulatory framework. This is based on exposure and toxicity assays, which are quite well established for aquatic ecosystems but not in soil ecosystems. This is especially true for soil microorganisms, where despite the abundance of advanced and standardized tools, the assessment of pesticides toxicity still relies on an outdated N mineralization test which ignores potential effects on key microbial functions and on microbial diversity. Furthermore, current scientific knowledge is limited to assessment of pesticide effects at single microbial groups while effects at ecosystem level along the soil food-web remain unknown. ReASSESS timely comes to address these scientific and regulatory gaps through a research program aiming to produce the benchmarking knowledge required to comprehensively assess the soil microbial toxicity of pesticides. In this quest novel tools, experimental procedures and risk assessment schemes will be developed providing fundamental knowledge to reform the currently outdated relevant risk assessment scheme. The scheme proposed by ReASSESS will be based on the response of key microbial indicator groups like ammonia-oxidizing microorganism (AOM) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), modulators of key soil functions and soil fertility, in the frame of a tiered approach moving from in vitro, to in soil, to ecosystem level assessment. The main goal of ReASSESS will be accomplished through three specific objectives:

  1. to develop pioneering in vitro tests, as a first conservative step, to assess the toxicity of pesticides on distinct AOM and AMF
  2. to develop advanced experimental 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: explore the impact of pesticides on microorganisms from different trophic-levels within the soil food-web (predator – prey)

Principal supervisor: Prof. Dimitrios Karpouzas,, +30-2410565294

Collaborating Partners: (i) Dr G. Nicol, Ecole Central de Lyon, France (ii) Prof S. Declerck, UC Leuven Belgium, (iii) Prof. A. Chatzinotas, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany

Job description

The position is available for 24 months. The main tasks of the selected candidate will be:

  • To work closely with the PI and two PhD students that will be employed by the project
  • To develop an ecosystem-level toxicity assessment and explore the impact of pesticides on microorganisms from different trophic-levels within the soil food-web (predator – prey systems)
  • To analyse the data using bioinformatic and molecular tools
  • To publish the data and present them in scientific conferences

In the frame of this project the selected candidate will visit UFZ, Leipzig and get training on the establishment of model predator – prey systems (3 months) under the supervision of Dr Antonis Chatzinotas

Key criteria for the assessment of candidates

  • PhD in Environmental Microbiology or Microbial Ecology
  • Good writing skills as demonstrated by relevant research publications
  • Experience in molecular tools used in microbial ecology (e.g. q-PCR, amplicon sequencing)
  • Experience in bioinformatics and ecological statistics
  • Previous experience in protists cultivation and handling will be a merit

Terms of employment

Recruitment and Terms of appointment will be done according to the national rules and regulations. The stipend of the fellow will be 2000 € including social and health security coverage (1200 € net/monthly).

Place of Employment

University of Thessaly, Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Laboratory of Plant and Environmental Biotechnology, Larissa, GREECE 

Application Procedure

The application, must be submitted by mail to and later through the submission system of the University of Thessaly when the call will be officially open. Please include (1) Full CV including studies, research experience, work experience and publications (2) Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
(3) 3 professional referees (Name, address, telephone & email)

Recruitment Process: After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the project manager will provide all applications to the members of the recruitment committee which will evaluate all applications and select the best three candidates based on the quality of the candidates’ previous training, qualifications and skills (as listed above), CV. The best three candidates will be interviewed by the recruitment committee which will select the best applicant for the position. The applicants will be notified of the final selection by the Project Manager and will be given 7 days to accept or decline.

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