Postdoctoral position, Molecular microbiology

Updated: about 1 month ago

The Faculty of Science is seeking to fill a full-time (100%) vacancy in the Department of Bioscience Engineering for a

Postdoctoral researcher in the area of molecular microbiology

This postdoc position is part of the ERC StG project Lacto-Be

Lactobacillus bacteria have a strong, but underexplored potential as sustainable bio-based solutions for many food and health-related problems. Since Nobel-laureate Eli Metchnikoff hypothesized that lactic acid bacteria can promote human health in the gut, the research on lactobacilli and probiotics has mainly focused on the human gut and fermented dairy foods. However, a major knowledge gap exists on the beneficial potential of Lactobacillus species in other human body sites (vagina, skin, upper respiratory tract), animals (e.g. chickens, honey bees), plants, crops, and even on abiotic surfaces. In addition, lactobacilli play a key role in many plant- and vegetable-based fermentations, where they promote the shelf life and nutritional value of food and feed. Yet, why and how Lactobacillus species can be beneficial in such a wide variety of niches is currently underexplored. Therefore, the core aim of this project is a systematic and integrated analysis of the evolutionary history, ecology, and beneficial functions of Lactobacillus species. We follow an unconventional approach situated at the intersections of molecular microbiology (focusing on a single microbe), molecular ecology (focusing on microbial communities) and comparative genomics with an evolutionary perspective on niche adaptation of lactobacilli. By looking deeper into Lactobacillus biology, a paradigm shift can be made moving from a classical ad hoc base to a unique knowledge-based framework for strain selection and analysis of fitness and performance.

Job description

  • You contribute to research in the field of applied microbiology, human and food microbiomes, bioinformatics, comparative genomics and probiotics.
  • You participate in the daily organization, management and fundraising of the research related to the Lacto-Be.
  • You will be involved in small educational tasks such as supervision of bachelor and master projects.
  • You will be asked to support small service tasks for the university and society such as representing the department at promotion events.

Profile and requirements

  • You hold (or get during the application period) a doctorate degree (PhD) in (micro)biology, bio-engineering, biotechnology, food sciences or related.
  • Your academic qualities comply with the requirements stipulated in the university’s policy .
  • The focus in your teaching corresponds to the educational vision of the university.
  • You are quality-oriented, conscientious, creative and cooperative.
  • You have strong communication skills.
  • You have at least one peer-reviewed paper as first author is an international Q1 journal.
  • You are fluent in academic English (speaking and writing).
  • You can document expertise in microbiology and molecular biology.
  • You are creative and willing to explore and combine new bioinformatics tools and experimental analyses.
  • You have knowledge about comparative genomics, 16S amplicon sequencing analysis or shotgun sequencing. You should show some experience with the processing of genome, 16S rRNA and / or metagenome data sets. Preferably, you can document experience with at least a few of the following bioinformatic tasks: multiple alignment, sequence searching (blast and variants), profile construction and searching (hmmer and variants), tree inference, sequence classification, orthology / pangenome inference, prophage detection.
  • You master basic computational skills to be able to do bioinformatics, such as the linux commandline environment and the basics of programming (R and / or Python and / or Perl). You will be trained in our team, but should be eager to learn.
  • Knowledge about molecular evolution is a plus : understand what a phylogenetic tree is and how you interpret it, know about orthologs, paralogs, core / accessory genome, horizontal gene transfer, ...

We offer

  • an appointment as a postdoctoral researcher for a period of one year with a possibility of renewal after positive evaluation;
  • the date of appointment 1 March 2020;
  • a full time gross monthly salary ranging from € 4.134,93 - € 6.446,00;
  • a dynamic and stimulating work environment.

How to apply?

  • Please send your application, accompanied by your CV and cover letter to [email protected] , with [email protected] in cc, until the closing date of February 18, 2020.
  • A pre-selection will be made from amongst the submitted applications.
  • The remainder of the selection procedure is specific to the position and will be determined by the selection panel.
  • For questions about the profile and the description of duties, please contact Prof. Sarah Lebeer, +3232653285 , [email protected] .

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