PhD Scholarship in Microbial Ecology 2018, Belgium


May 13, 2018

Opportunity Cover Image - PhD Scholarship in Microbial Ecology 2018, Belgium

PhD Scholarship in the Area of Microbial Ecology

The Faculty of Sciences at the University of Antwerp has a full-time vacancy in the Department of Biology for a talented PhD scholarship in the area of Microbial Ecology.

"Microbial ecosystem functioning at oxic-anoxic interfaces in peatlands": Peatlands represent a globally significant pool of soil carbon that has been accumulating for millennia, and are an important sink for carbon dioxide and source of atmospheric methane. Some of the organic material that is deposited in peatlands is degraded by the ambient microbial community, while some is sequestered. Efficient decomposition is hampered by the lack of oxygen, and micro-organisms living at the oxic-anoxic interface in peatlands have evolved a variety of strategies to overcome this obstacle and effectively decompose organic matter. Recently, new mechanisms have been discovered how microbes can overcome the problem of staying in contact with oxygen while “mining” for electron donors and other resources in anoxic environments. Examples are long filamentous bacteria that are capable of long-distance electron transport as well as fungi that can act as O2 transporting vessels. These mechanisms may be important near the inundation layer as well as at the oxic-anoxic interface around plant roots. Within this project, the evolutionary and ecological background of microbial strategies to overcome O2 limitation in peatlands will be studied in detail. The PhD student will explore which evolutionary strategies are used and how they may affect the geochemical cycling of carbon and other elements in peatlands.


The microbial ecosystem at the interface of oxic and anoxic layers in peatlands will be studied using the following multidisciplinary approaches: in situsampling of oxic-anoxic interfaces in various peatlands in Northwestern Europe, laboratory incubations of peatland sediments with controlled oxic-anoxic interfaces, characterization of the pore water and solid phase geochemistry, determination of redox gradients by microsensor profiling, state-of-the-art microscopy, amplicon sequencing of microbial groups/genes, meta-genomics and/or meta-transcriptomics.

Job description

  • You prepare a doctorate thesis in the field of Microbial Ecology within the Global Change Ecology Excellence Centre.
  • You contribute to teaching and research in the Department of Biology and Faculty of Sciences (supervision of practical courses, MSc- and Erasmus-students).

Profile and requirements

  • You hold a Master’s degree in Biological Sciences or Bioscience Engineering.
  • You have excellent skills in scientific writing in English.
  • Your academic qualities comply with the requirements stipulated in the university’s policy;
  • Your teaching approach aligns with the educational vision of the university.
  • Experience in a subset of the above listed microbial or biogeochemical techniques is an advantage.
  • Students in the final year of their degree can apply.

The offer

  • a doctoral scholarship for a period of two years, with the possibility of renewal for a further two-year period after positive evaluation;
  • the starting date of the scholarship will be 1 October 2018;
  • a gross monthly grant ranging from € 2.324,20 to € 2.469,08;
  • a dynamic and stimulating work environment.

How to apply?

  • Applications may only be submitted online, until the closing date.
  • The selection committee will make a shortlist of candidates from amongst the submitted applications. The remainder of the selection procedure is specific to the position and will be determined by the selection committee.
  • More information about the application form can be obtained from
  • For additional information about the position and the project, please contact Prof. Erik Verbruggen (+32 3 265 22 89, or Prof. Filip Meysman (+32 494 06 43 27,

The University of Antwerp is a family-friendly organization, with a focus on equal opportunities and diversity. Our HR-policy for researchers was awarded by the European Commission with the quality label HR Excellence in research. They support the Science4Refugees initiative and encourage asylum-seeking, refugee scientists and researchers to apply for a job at the University of Antwerp.

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

Eligible Countries
Host Country
Study Levels
Publish Date
April 19, 2018
Link To Original