Research Scientist/PhD in Soil Microbiology: Germany

The Institute for Biodiversity of the Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, is hiring for a period of four years, starting from February 1, 2023 a Research Scientist (f/m/d) in the field of Soil Microbiology (Ph.D. student) with 65% of the regular weekly working time to work in the joint project “Location-differentiated assessment and crediting of the use of nitrification inhibitors as a climate protection measure in crop production (NitriKlim)”. The call for applications looks for applicants who, in addition to their employment, are aiming for their own academic further education, in particular a doctorate.

More than 60% of emissions of the greenhouse gas N2O in Germany come from agriculture and they are primarily the result of soil microbiological nitrogen (N) transformations. Organic and mineral N fertilizers are the most important drivers. The N losses are not only harmful to the climate, but also reduce the effect of fertilizers. The use of nitrification inhibitors (NI) can reduce direct N2O emissions, but their effects and interactions in agricultural soils are still difficult to assess. The joint project NitriKlim uses a Germany-wide network of coordinated field and laboratory tests to evaluate, model and regionalize the effects of NI on N dynamics, efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions as well as possible environmental risks. Soil DNA and RNA analyses will be used to identify the soil microorganisms involved in nitrogen transformation and to characterize their reaction to the addition of NI. Possible changes should be related to N-transformation activities. The position is part of a working group “Molecular Soil Microbiology” (headed by Prof. Dr. Christoph Tebbe).

Job description:

Conduct experimental studies on the impact of NI on the soil microbiome

  • Interdisciplinary cooperation with project partners in connection with field trials and laboratory soil incubation in mesocosms
  • Adaptation and application of a protocol for the extraction of DNA/RNA from soil aggregates as obtained from different field experiments and mesocosm studies
  • Purification and PCR amplification of rRNA and functional marker genes for sequencing and quantification of marker genes using real-time PCR
  • Molecular processing of DNA sequences for high-throughput sequencing
  • Application of bioinformatic analyses for phylogenetic evaluations of DNA and derived amino acid sequences
  • Further use of the data for multivariate analyzes and the graphical representation of complex data sets, especially network analyses
  • Presentation of own work at institute seminars, as well as at internal meetings of the NitriKlim project and at international conferences
  • Support of the project manager for the external presentation of the project
  • Preparation of reports and manuscripts on research results for publication in international peer-reviewed journals


  • A degree from a university (univ. diploma, M.Sc.) in the fields of microbiology, biotechnology, bioinformatics or similar disciplines is required
  • High level of interest in environmental microbiology and systems ecology is expected
  • Knowledge of molecular ecology, high-throughput DNA sequencing techniques and bioinformatics is highly desirable
  • Knowledge of statistical data analysis, preferably with R, is expected
  • Independent working methods, high organizational talent and strong team skills are required
  • Very good communication skills are important
  • Very good knowledge of spoken and written English is expected
  • Willingness to travel for several days within Germany, for sampling and cooperation with project partners is an indispensable requirement.

With this project, we offer the opportunity to work on a socially highly relevant issue at the interface between science and practice in an active and stimulating research environment and to make use of contacts, in particular with national research institutions. Because the professional and personal development of our employees is important to us at the Thünen Institute, we offer a family-friendly working environment, flexible working time models and extensive offers of professional training and further education.

The employment relationship is based on the provisions of the collective agreement for the public sector (TVöD). The fee is paid up to pay group 13 TVöD.

In addition to the employment relationship, there is the opportunity for further scientific training, e.g. for work on a dissertation. The work results achieved in the project can be used for this. The Technical University of Braunschweig can be considered for the doctorate.

The Thünen Institute promotes professional equality between women and men and therefore expressly welcomes applications from women.

Severely disabled people are given special consideration if they are equally qualified; they are required to have a minimum level of physical fitness.

Additional information, if needed, can be directed to Prof. Dr. Christoph Tebbe (Tel. +49 531-596-2553; Email:

Applications with a tabular curriculum vitae, description of training and professional career, addresses for two references and copies of certificates are requested electronically as one single pdf document by November 15, 2022, stating the reference number 2022-315-BD to:

More information and apply
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