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PhD student - Evolution of a plant-bacterium symbiosis - Belgium  

Ghent University (company)

Posted on : 20 March 2017

Project Description

  •  A fully funded PhD position is available at the Laboratory of Microbiology.
  •  Interactions between plants and the microorganisms that live on their aerial surfaces (stems or leaves) are increasingly recognized as critical for development and defense against pathogens or herbivores. 
  • However, the molecular principles underlying the selection of a beneficial microbiota and /or functions on the leaf surface are still mostly unknown, partly due to the lack of a tractable model system. 
  • The objective of this project is to characterize the interaction between an African species of wild yam (genus Dioscorea) with its obligate bacterial symbiont and explore the relevance of this symbiosis as a model system of beneficial plant/bacteria interactions in the phyllosphere. 
  • This project will involve bacterial genome analysis, metagenomics and population genomics methods. 

Profile of the candidate 

We are inviting applications from excellent graduates in Microbiology, Bioinformatics or Evolutionary Biology or a related diploma with scientific interest in and preferably practical experience in plant-microbe interactions. A recently obtained Master of Science level is mandatory; researchers can be of any nationality. 

We expect the following skills from the applicants: 
  •  Good knowledge of evolutionary biology concepts and phylogenetic methods
  •  Experience with at least one programming or scripting language (e.g. Python, Perl, Javascript, &)
  •  Good knowledge of statistics and of the R language.
  •  Good communication skills including good command of the English language, both written and verbal. 
  •  A creative, critical and analytical mindset is necessary, together with the ability to work independently.

Our offer :
  •  A contract as full-time PhD student (4 years)  with internationally competitive salary 
  •  Work within a young and international team
  •  Opportunity to develop skills in bioinformatics and molecular microbiology 

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