Postdoc position at Royal NIOZ – “Evolution of membrane lipids in Bacteria & Archaea”

The Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (MMB department head a.i. Prof. Dr. Stefan Schouten) is looking for a highly motivated young researcher with a background in microbiology, molecular genetic engineering and/or phylogenomics and a PhD in one of the mentioned areas for a project in the framework of the Soehngen Institute for Anaerobic Microbiology consortium (SIAM).

LOCATION:                  NIOZ Texel (Netherlands)
VACANCY NR.:            2019 – 59
CLOSING DATE:         01-11-2019



The Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry on Texel performs detailed studies on microbial communities in the marine environment. We study the diversity, physiology and activity of phytoplankton, prokaryotes (archaea and bacteria) and viruses in diverse marine environmental settings by a variety of techniques, including modern genomic techniques.



Lipid membranes are key in differentiating the domains of life with bacteria and eukaryotes membranes formed by fatty acids linked to glycerol-3-phosphate (G3P) via ester bonds, while archaea have membranes made of isoprenoid alkyl chains linked by ether linkages to glycerol-1-phosphate (G1P). This segregation in lipid membrane composition, or ‘lipid divide’, has been hypothesized to have appeared early in the evolution of microbial life. Over the years and more recently with genomic data, this concept has been challenged by the identification of traits thought to be characteristic of archaeal membrane lipids in bacteria and vice versa, which expose a ‘lipid divide’ that is not as clear-cut as originally thought.

In this project, we aim to determine the presence of microbial membrane lipids with traits unexpected for its domain of life, to assess the characteristics of these membranes in terms of stability and flexibility in changing environmental conditions, as well as to investigate the evolutionary story of both bacterial and archaeal lipid membranes. For this aim, we will apply lipidomics and genomics methods together with physiological assays and incubations with stable isotopes, as well as phylogenomic approaches. The candidate will be trained in a wide range of analytical methods including lipid biomarker, stable isotope assays, microbiological and molecular techniques, as well as phylogenetics/phylogenomics.



We are looking for a young researcher with a background in microbiology, molecular genetic engineering, and/or phylogenomics and a PhD in one of the mentioned areas. Experience with lipid analysis, molecular tools, command line and Unix as well as in the application of programming languages is beneficial. Due to the international character of the research group, excellent English communication skills are expected.



We are offering fulltime positions for 3 years, a pension scheme, a yearly 8% vacation allowance, year-end bonus and flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of Research Centers. The position will be located on Texel. Cost of relocation and help with housing is provided by NIOZ.



Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from: Dr. Laura Villanueva (Research Scientist) @

Additional information about the procedure can be obtained from Alexandra Noppeney (Sr HR Advisor) @

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