PhD position: Parasites of harmful cyanobacteria - NIOO-KNAW - Wageningen

PhD position: Parasites of harmful cyanobacteria - NIOO-KNAW - Wageningen

Published Deadline Location
27 Mar 15 May Wageningen

You cannot apply for this job anymore (deadline was 15 May 2024).

Browse the current job offers or choose an item in the top navigation above.

In this multi-approach PhD position you will investigate how climate change, fungal parasites and cyanobacteria interact.

Job description

Cyanobacterial blooms are primarily driven by eutrophication and are expected to become more frequent with climate change. The toxicity of blooms depends on various ecological scales, from cellular toxic quota, to population and community structure. The overarching aim of this PhD project is to understand how fungal parasites (chytrids) impact cyanobacterial blooms toxicity by targeting different cyanobacterial species and toxic or non-toxic genotypes.

The PhD project will consist of a combination of approaches including field work, isolations, and laboratory experiments on host-fungal parasite systems and in natural communities.

You will contribute to the following aims:

1) Establish cyanobacteria and fungal parasite community dynamics by monitoring fungal parasites infecting harmful cyanobacteria at recreational sites and drinking water reservoirs using metabarcoding and flow cytometry.

2) Obtain host-parasite systems by isolating fungal parasites that infect various cyanobacterial genotypes and species using flow cytometry sorting.

3) Assess how nutrient and light availability combined with climate change factors (CO2, temperature) affect parasite infections of harmful cyanobacteria using state of the art chemostats.

4) Establish a mechanistic understanding on the impacts of environmental factors on fungal infections of cyanobacteria using indoor mesocosm systems.


Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)


Job requirements:
  • Master’s degree (at starting day of the position) with a background in freshwater, marine and/or microbial ecology.
  • Experience with phytoplankton and/or host-parasite interactions would be preferred but not essential.
  • Strong intrinsic motivation for doing science, a natural curiosity, and the ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  • Professional working proficiency in English, including scientific writing.

  • Not yet in possession of a doctoral degree.
  • Fulfil the transnational mobility criterion, i.e. not have resided or carried out main activities (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before the starting date of the project — unless as part of a compulsory national service, or a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

What we are offering

We offer training for PhD students in a broad range of empirical ecological skills ranging from phytoplankton experimental ecology, culturing, field studies, and chemical and molecular analyses. Furthermore, general training is offered through the KNAW and partners (such as research schools), involving statistical analysis, data interpretation, creative thinking, ecological conceptualization, scientific writing, and career guidance.

This PhD project is part of the overarching EU funded Doctoral Network ‘Pathogens of Algae for Biocontrol and Biosecurity’ (PHABB). As part of this overarching project, there will be additional workshops and training opportunities targeted to phytoplankton parasites. In addition, this PhD project will involve short term visits of 4-8 weeks with Prof. Justyna Wolinska at the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Germany (evolution experiments), Prof. Pieter van West at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland (meta-barcoding), and Dr. Steef Peters at Water Insight in the Netherlands (Earth observation).

Terms of employment
Depending on education and experience the minimum salary is €2.770,- and the maximum salary is €3.539,- gross per month for a full-time appointment (scale P cao Nederlandse Universiteiten/KNAW). This is exclusive of 8% vacation allowance, 8.3% year-end bonus, travel allowance, internet allowance, home working allowance and pension accrual with ABP.

The KNAW offers its staff an excellent package of secondary benefits. A package that meets the different needs of employees depending on their stage of life, lifestyle or career ambitions. For example, by working an extra two hours a week, it is possible to increase the number of days off from 29 to 41 days a year (with full-time employment).

For a complete overview of the terms of employment, please refer to the web page: werken bij de KNAW.

Applying for a Certificate of Good Conduct can be part of the employment procedure.


Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)

The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is a top research institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). NIOO-KNAW focuses on fundamental and strategic research on individual organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems.


Aquatic Ecology

This PhD project will be primarily performed within the Department of Aquatic Ecology of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), located in Wageningen, the Netherlands, with daily supervision by Prof. Dedmer van de Waal. The projects will be in close collaboration with the Department of Freshwater and Marine Ecology at the University of Amsterdam, under supervision of Prof. Jef Huisman, and where also the formal PhD degree will be obtained.

Additional advisors include Prof. Justyna Wolinska (Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin, Germany), Dr. Thijs Frenken (HAS Green Academy, Den Bosch, the Netherlands), and Dr. Bettina Scholz (BioPol, Skagaströnd, Iceland).


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 30.4—38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 2021


Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

Learn more about this employer


Droevendaalsesteeg 10, 6708PB, Wageningen

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you