PhD Project in Microbial Molecular Ecology

PhD Project in Microbial Molecular Ecology

The research group for Microbial Molecular Ecology in the Geomicrobiology department at the University of Tübingen is looking for a PhD student (Environmental Microbiologist, Molecular Ecologist) who will work on:

‘Metabolic survival strategies of iron(II)-oxidizing bacteria
under denitrifying conditions
 Iron (Fe) is one of the most abundant elements on Earth and an essential nutrient for microorganisms. Reduced Fe(II) is furthermore used as electron donor by Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria. Under circumneutral pH conditions, Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria use either oxygen (microaerophilic) or nitrate (nitrate-reducing) as electron acceptors or light (photoferrotrophic) as energy source to oxidize Fe(II). Despite the relevance of Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria in Fe-rich environments, the metabolic pathway, physiology, and genes involved in Fe(II) oxidation remain largely unknown.

This project will focus on the nitrate-reducing, Fe(II)-oxidizing enrichment culture “KS”, which was obtained from a freshwater pond in Bremen, Germany, and maintained under autotrophic conditions. In particular, innovative cultivation techniques (e.g. the application of laser tweezers) in combination with anaerobic and microaerophilic strategies will be applied to isolate the Fe(II) oxidizer from culture KS. In addition, omics techniques (e.g. metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, metaproteomics) in tandem with stable-isotope probing will be used to identify genes and enzymes involved in Fe(II) oxidation and nitrate reduction as well as to unravel the metabolism of Fe(II) oxidation. Omics data sets will furthermore be used to identify potential genes involved in Fe(II) oxidation that can be used as targets for molecular assays, e.g. quantitative PCR.

We are offering a PhD position in an interdisciplinary, international, and dynamic team of molecular ecologists, microbiologists, geochemists and geoscientists. This position provides an opportunity for the candidate to be creative and innovative, and to work on a challenging, multidisciplinary topic. Ideal candidates should have a solid background in molecular ecology and environmental microbiology. Applicants must have the ability to work independent and in a team, have excellent management and communication skills and should be highly motivated and committed to pursuing interdisciplinary research. Very good computer and language skills (English) are necessary. The candidate will have the opportunity to present his/her results in international journals and at conferences.

The starting date is October 1st 2016 or as soon as possible thereafter. The project is part of the “Research Training Group 1708 (GRK1708): Molecular Principles of Bacterial Survival Strategies”, supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. The employment (TVL E13, 50%, 3 years) will be arranged by the administration of the University of Tübingen. Disabled persons will be preferred in case of equal qualification.

Applications including CV, motivation letter, overview of techniques and methods used in the past, and contact address of two referees should be send by email before July 24th 2016 to:
Dr. Sara Kleindienst, Microbial Molecular Ecology Group, Geomicrobiology, Center for Applied Geosciences, University of Tübingen, Hölderlinstr. 12, D-72074 Tübingen, Germany
Phone: +49-7071-2974701

More information can be found on the website:
How to apply:
please send it by email
Send application to
Dr. Sara Kleindienst, Microbial Molecular Ecology Group, Geomicrobiology, Center for Applied Geosciences, University of Tübingen, Hölderlinstr. 12, D-72074 Tübingen, Germany
Phone: +49-7071-2974701
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About Institut für Geowissenschaften

The Center of Applied Geosciences (ZAG) is one of the largest universitzy research centers in Europe focusing on applied environmental research in the subsurface. For more technical information see

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