PhD student Environmental Biology

University of Hasselt


August 20, 2021


The Faculty of Sciences, research institute Research Institute: Centre for Environmental Sciences, research group Environmental Biology of Hasselt University seeks a (m/f/x)

PhD student Environmental Biology

Background The Centre for Environmental Sciences at UHasselt, in collaboration with the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre and the research groups Microbiology and Plant Genetics at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, wants to hire a full-time PhD student to investigate the mechanisms of environmental adaptation in pines and their associated rhizosphere mirobiome. The extreme event of the Fukushima nuclear disaster is a case study within a FWO-project.

Job content How can adaptations in pines and symbiotic rhizosphere communities support tree survival after a nuclear accident? Microbial symbionts are known to contribute to survival of host plants under a range of environmental stress conditions. Upon a drastic change in the environment, the community of symbionts can react by changing its species composition or by evolutionary adaptation to the new conditions. In this PhD project, the extreme event of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident will be used as a case study for a sudden drastic change in environmental conditions. You will investigate the effects of a sudden increase in ionizing radiation on the species composition of the rhizosphere community on the one hand, and on the evolution of radiation tolerance of an important mycorrhizal fungus on the other hand. By linking these parameters to host plant survival and performance, we may be able to advance our understanding of how symbionts provide resilience to their host in the face of changing environmental stress.

We are looking for a candidate with a strong background in at least one of the following fields: microbiology, evolutionary biology, microbial ecology, population genomics or bioinformatics. This is a project with a significant data-analysis part. Previous experience with NGS data and bioinformatics or programming skills will be considered an asset. Profile

  • You have a master degree in biology, biotechnology, biochemistry, applied biology (engineering) (or equivalent)
  • You have a strong background in at least one of the following fields: microbiology, evolutionary biology, microbial ecology, plant sciences or bioinformatics
  • You are cooperative and can work well in teams.
  • You can work well independently, paying attention to the need to communicate with colleagues and mentor(s).
  • You are willing to go on trips abroad.
  • You are willing to do some research at the project partner institutions
  • You are fluent in both spoken and written English.
  • Offer You will be appointed and paid as PhD student. 2 x 2 year after positive evaluation

    Selection procedure You can only apply online up to and including 15 August 2021. The selection procedure consists of a preselection based on application file and an interview.

    Further information Prof. dr. Jan COLPAERT, +32-11-268304, Prof. dr. Nele HOREMANS, dr. Rik VERDONCK, +32-11-268224,

    More about working at Hasselt University? Check www. for our staff benefits.

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