PhD disentangling microbial symbioses in anaerobic ecosystems

PhD disentangling microbial symbioses in anaerobic ecosystems

Published Deadline Location
26 Feb 19 Mar Wageningen

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Job description

Are you the enthusiastic PhD Scientist who is interested in anaerobic microbiology, and specifically on how microorganisms in a community interact with each other? Then we are looking for you!!

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate with strong interest in microbial physiology of anaerobes to study 'microbial symbioses' in anaerobic environments. The candidate should have a good background in microbiology, strong motivation, good communication skills and ability for teamwork and cooperation.
In anaerobic ecosystems (i.e. environments lacking oxygen), microbial communities are thought to partition niches, delegate functions, and share energy across multiple populations to thrive under energy-limited conditions. For this reason, anaerobic systems are ideal for studying microbial symbioses. A well-studied case of symbiosis is 'syntrophy' (meaning 'eating together') -, a type of cross-feeding that occurs e.g. during the anaerobic conversion of fatty-acids to methane, and involves fatty-acid oxidizing bacteria and methanogens. In this project we will syntrophy, but also search for other types of not yet known symbioses in anaerobic sludges. This will involve: i) analyses of microbial diversity/function to predict possible microbial symbioses, and ii) construction of multispecies synthetic communities to define the mechanism behind specific symbioses.

This project is part of the Gravitation Research Program SIAM - Soehngen Institute of Anaerobic Microbiology ( The PhD project will be developed at the Microbial Physiology group, Laboratory of Microbiology at Wageningen University & Research (WUR).


Wageningen University & Research


  • You are an ambitious and result-driven researcher, and a team player devoted to research and education in a highly international and interdisciplinary academic environment;
  • you have a master in Biology, Microbiology, or Biotechnology;
  • you have knowledge of microbial physiology and molecular microbiology techniques is essential;
  • you have experience in on bioinformatics, genome and transcriptome/proteome analyses is an advantage;
  • you are a person with a pro-active attitude and good communication - and presentation skills;
  • you have excellent English communication skills, orally as well as in scientific writing.

Conditions of employment

The successful applicant will be employed at the Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University & Research. Salary and working conditions are according to the collective labor agreement of the Cooperative Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU) for PhD students. You receive a temporary contract for a period of 1.5 years with extension of 2.5 years after successful evaluation. Gross salary per month € 2325,-. in the first year rising up to € 2972,-. per month in the fourth year.

Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment.

In addition, we offer:
  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be determined in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
  • a flexible working time: the possibility to work a maximum of 2 hours per week extra and thereby to build up extra leave;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • use the sports facilities on campus;
  • a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.


Wageningen University & Research

We are the group of Microbial Physiology within the laboratory of Microbiology of Wageningen University (
The Laboratory of Microbiology is engaged in research and education in biotransformations and interactions of microorganisms as well as their control. Moreover, it contributes to the exploitation of the generated knowledge in the application areas of Health & Food, Bioproducts & Energy and Environment & Sustainability. Microbial physiology group is especially interested in microbial transformations in anoxic conditions with strong interest in syntrophy, reductive respiratory processes and bioproduction of interesting molecules.

The Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Group is part of Wageningen University & Research where fundamental and applied sciences complement each other. As an important European player, we carry out top-level research and work alongside authoritative partners within the international business world as well as the government on "Healthy food in a biobased society". We have a crucial role in innovations within the market. Entrepreneurship and professionalism are what define us. In short, we are an interesting, international employer of stature.

Wageningen University & Research
Delivering a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That's our focus - each and every day. Within our domain, healthy food and living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society - such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don't do this alone. Every day, 5000 people work on 'the quality of life', turning ideas into reality, on a global scale. Could you be one of these people? We give you the space you need.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at

Acquisition regarding this vacancy is not appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 601942


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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