PhD Studentships (2)- Molecular Ecology and Soil Microbiology, VU University Amsterdam Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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The Department of Animal Ecology at the VU University Amsterdam and the Centre for Terrestrial Ecology at the Netherlands Institute for Ecology are looking for two enthusiastic PhD’s.

One project focuses on fungi that promote plant growth (PhD 1), and the other project investigates fungi that regulate the breakdown of organic matter in a range of agricultural ecosystems (PhD 2).

The project descriptions are given below.

PhD 1: Molecular Ecology 'Effects of genetically modified crops on beneficial soil fungi'
1,0 fte, Vacancy number 1.2007.00067/1
VU University Amsterdam
Faculty Earth and Life Sciences
Department of Animal Ecology

The PhD will focus on a number of key issues including: (I) an examination of mycorrhizal fungal communities across a range of agricultural ecosystems.

This will be done using molecular identification tools such as t-RFLP and RT-PCR, also focusing on a number of functional genes that are important to mycorrhizal function; (II) you will test the effects of genetically modified maize cultivation on mycorrhizal fungal communities, and (III) you will investigate how communities of mycorrhizal fungi influence plant performance and plant nutrition.

PhD 2: (Molecular) Soil Microbiology
1,0 fte, Vacancy number 1.2007.00067/2
The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO), Workgroup
Terrestrial Microbial Ecology

Mission of the NIOO is to carry out fundamental and strategic research in ecology.

The workgroup Terrestrial Microbial Ecology carries out multidisciplinary research directed at the diversity, function and interactions of bacteria and fungi in plant-soil systems.

Within the workgroup Terrestrial Microbial Ecology of the CTE we seek a qualified PhD, to study the effects of genetically modified plants on fungi involved in the degradation of recalcitrant organic matter.

Effects will be examined with respect to the structure, diversity and functions of these fungal communities.

Requirements Required education/skills: University Graduate

PhD 1: We are looking for an enthusiastic, motivated person with an MSc in Biology, Ecology or Microbiology with proven skills in molecular ecology.

PhD 2: We seek a recent graduate of a masters program in microbial ecology, molecular biology, mycology, microbiology or soil biology with a research-oriented mentality.

With a combination of traditional, molecular and genomics methodologies, this project seeks to examine the density, structure, diversity and activities of fungi responsible for the degradation of recalcitrant organic matter such as plant litter.

Decomposition rates will be examined via specific bioassays, respiration rate measurements, enzymatic assays, and fungal gene expression.

Job type: Research / Advising


  • Research trainees, non-tenured lecturers, researchers(Scientific discipline: Natural Sciences)
  • Research trainees, non-tenured lecturers, researchers(Scientific discipline: Agriculture)

    For an overview of faculties and institutes see:

    The Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences is the result of the merger between the former Faculty of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Biology and the Institute of Environmental Studies.

    The Faculty is offering education and doing research in the fields of:

    Earth Sciences (physical geography and geology) Biology
    Biomedical Sciences
    Public Health
    Environmental Studies

    Conditions of employment Estimated maximum salary per month: eur 2000 - 2500

    Maximum salary amount in Euro's a month 2502

    Employment basis: Temporary for specified period
    Duration of the contract: 1 year, poss. extended to total of 4
    Maximum hours per week: 38

    Additional conditions of employment:
    The gross monthly salary for both positions will be € 1.956 for the first year and will increase to 2.502,- in the fourth year.


    PhD 1: The position is full-time, and for a period of 4 years.

    You can find information about our excellent fringe benefits of employment - including holiday allowances of 8 % per year - at

    PhD 2: The position will initially be a temporary placement for one year, with an extension to a total of four years if progress is deemed acceptable.

    Employment will be within the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Centre for Terrestrial Ecology, in Heteren and fall under the CAO-NU of the KNAW, and is based upon a 38 hour work week.

    Additional Information Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from:

    For PhD 1: Marcel van der Heijden
    Telephone number: 31 (0)20 59 87046
    E-mail address: marcel.van.der.heijden [at]

    Or For PhD 2: Prof.Dr. George Kowalchuk
    Telephone number: 31 (0)26 47 91314
    E-mail address: g.kowalchuk [at]
    Or additional information can be obtained through one of the following links:

    * About the organization (
    * About the department (
    * About the function (

    Application You can apply for this job (dd-mm-yyyy) by sending your application to:

    VU University Amsterdam
    Faculty Earth and Life Sciences
    Dr,J.M.R.M. Neutelings
    De Boelelaan 1083
    1081 HV Amsterdam
    The Netherlands
    falw-vacatures [at]

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