Ph.D. position in microbial ecology

By | February 8, 2009

Ph.D. position in microbial ecology
Microbial Ecology Research Group
The research group Microbial Ecology is part of the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies (CEES) in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Groningen. The group studies the adaptive strategies of prokaryotic microorganisms that allow these to survive in complex natural habitats. One of the topics focuses on the role of microbial diversity in ecosystem functioning. The research is strongly multidisciplinary and includes microbiology, ecology, molecular biology and plant physiology and ecology. The group provides a lively and internationally oriented scientific environment with excellent facilities.

A major goal in general ecology is to understand the role of biodiversity in ecosystem functioning. Ecological theory predicts that ecosystems with a higher diversity of species are more productive and more stable in the face of stresses and environmental fluctuations. Amongst the different components of biodiversity, the diversity of functional traits of species in a community is considered to be the best predictor of the related ecosystem process. In this context, we recently used experimental communities of bacterial species to evaluate the role of bacterial functional diversity on community processes. Diversity had indeed a positive effect on community function and we were able to demonstrate the relevance of the complementarity of species for resource use capacity in shaping biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships. The main goal of this PhD project is to use a similar model system to address the role of bacterial diversity in respect of the
stability of the communities. You will be responsible for designing experiments with bacterial communities to test theories related to the diversity-stability relationship. You will apply classical microbiological methods to determine community functioning. You will develop and apply molecular methods for the quantification of bacterial species, as well as statistical models to untangle the effects of diversity components on community stability. The project will be carried out in collaboration with the Microbial Ecology center (UMR5557, Université Lyon1) in Lyon, France.
You have a Masters degree or equivalent degree in microbiology/ microbial ecology, with a strong background in general ecology or in ecology with interest in working with microbial model systems. Experience with the application of molecular methods in the study of the complex communities is an advantage. The project is demanding and asks for dedication as well as a creative mind. Good proficiency of the English language is required. The Ph.D. candidate is expected to attend a few courses and to assist in teaching students at different levels (10% of time).

Additional information
For more information you may contact Dr Joana F. Salles
e-mail address:

Additional information can be obtained through one of the following links.
• About the organization (
• (

Conditions of employment
The university offers a salary of € 1633, to 2443,– gross (bruto) salary per month. Objective of the temporary 4 years position is to produce a number of research articles in highly ranked, peer-reviewed scientific journals, which will form the basis of the thesis leading to the granting of the Ph.D. degree (Dr.) at the University of Groningen. After the first year, there will be an evaluation as to the feasibility of successful completion of the Ph.D. thesis within the next 3 years.

Letters written in English, including a personal motivation, a curriculum vitae, along with names and addresses (including telephone/fax and e-mail addresses) of three referees, are to be sent to:
Department of Microbial Ecology, University of Groningen
Biological Centre
Postbus 14
9750 AA Haren
The Netherlands

The position will be open until March, 15th.