PhD student Environmental Biology

Updated: 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 15 Aug 2021


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.

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