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PhD scholarship in Plant-Microbe Interactions (BestPass) ESR14

PhD scholarship in Plant-Microbe Interactions (BestPass) ESR14
BestPass: Boosting plant-endophyte stability, compatibility and performance across scales
Reference number: 18/2015/PV
The Leibniz-Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ) is offering a PhD scholarship in Plant-Microbe Interactions with expected commencement 1. February 2016 or as soon as possible thereafter. The PhD will be awarded by the Faculty of Life Sciences, Humboldt University Berlin.
Project title: Plant-Fungus-Bacteria three-fold interactions for improved plant nutrition and inoculum stability
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and Piriformospora indica are root endophytic fungi with positive effects on plant nutrition and plant health. Plant nutrition can be also supported by mineral nutrient-mobilising bacteria in the rhizosphere. These effects have been often observed under controlled conditions, but were not reproducible in the field. One possible reason could be the presence of mycophagous bacteria which feed on the beneficial fungi used for inoculation. The aim of the project is to infect beneficial root endophytic fungi with mineral nutrient-mobilizing bacteria to test the hypotheses:
  • that such bacteria increase the mineral nutrient-providing effects of root endophytic fungi.
  • that such bacteria induce resistance against mycophagous bacteria and increase the stability and efficiency of inocula in the field.
Principal supervisor: Prof Dr Philipp Franken, Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Franken@erfurt.igzev.de, +4936201/785 217
Planned secondments: AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Vienna/ Austria; INOQ GmbH, Schnega/ Germany; University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Copenhagen/ Denmark
We need to increase the crop yield while reducing pesticide and use of inorganic fertiliser to meet the challenges of world population growth and climate change. Plant endophytic microorganisms can improve plant yield and enhance plant tolerance to abiotic stress as well as to pathogens under experimental conditions, but these effects are often not sufficiently stable for practical application.
How do we boost the stability and reliability of the positive effects of endophytes on plants?
We need to understand the genetic basis of beneficial interactions between crops and endophytes and extent this basic knowledge of phenotypic plasticity at all interaction levels from the cellular to the field environment. This requires increasing our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of endophytes, including intra- and inter-kingdom exchange and distribution of resources (nutrients), signalling and possibly regulation between and inside the partners, the mutual induced production of secondary metabolites and the environmental cues which influence crop-endophyte interactions. The genetic variation and its plasticity in host and microbe will be exploited to establish crop breeding and inoculum production processes for boosting the establishment and stability of plant-microbe mutualisms to benefit crop development, stress tolerance, pathogen resistance and quality.
In BestPass we will provide fundamental biological as well as practical knowledge about interactions between endophytes and plants. This improved understanding will pave the way for increased use of endophytes to improve sustainability and plant productivity in a reliable way.
BestPass is an International Training Network (ITN) funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 676480. General information about BestPass is available at http://bestpass.ku.dk/ or by contacting the project Coordinator, Professor David B. Collinge (Dept. Plant and Environmental, University of Copenhagen, dbc@plen.ku.dk, Phone: +45 35 33 33 56)
Job description
The position is available for a 3-year period. Your key tasks as a PhD student in BestPass are:
  • Participate in the research environment at the Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops and the network activities of BestPass.
  • Manage and carry through your research project.
  • Take PhD courses.
  • Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis.
  • Participate in congresses.
  • Disseminate your research.
Key criteria for the assessment of candidates
  • A master’s degree related to the subject area of the project
  • The grade point average achieved
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD programme
  • Relevant biological research experience within these areas: molecular microbiology, plant-microbe interactions
  • Previous research publications
  • Other professional activities
  • Language skills: fluency in English
Formal requirements and eligibility
At the time of commencement, it is required that the candidates have not been awarded a doctorate degree and are within the first 4 years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers. Furthermore, the candidates must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Germany for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.
Terms of employment
Recruitment and terms of appointment will be done according to the rules and regulations of Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops. Salary will be according to the rules and regulations for PhD students laid down by European Union’s Horizon 2020 Marie Curie Initial Training Networks.
Place of Employment is Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Kühnhäuser Straße 101, 99090 Erfurt.
Please notice that this PhD fellowship entails following secondments: Copenhagen University,  Copenhagen/Denmark, month 17-24; INOQ GmbH,  Schnega/Germany, month 34 and 38
Application Procedure
The application, in English, must be submitted by mail to: Personalbüro, Institute for Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Theodor-Echtermeyer-Weg 1, D-14979 Großbeeren or online in pdf-format to personal@igzev.de, citing the reference number. Applications can only sent back if supplied with postage.
Please include
  • Cover Letter, stating which PhD project you are applying for and detailing your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project.
  • Please indicate if (and which) you have applied for other BestPass PhD fellowships
  • Max 1-page proposal for research activities to pursue in the PhD study program
  • CV
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
  • 1-3 professional referees (Name, address, telephone & email)
  • Documentation of English language qualifications
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any)
The applicant will be assessed according to German rules of equality. IGZ is an equal opportunity employer. Handicapped people with equal qualifications will be employed preferentially. The IGZ wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of age, gender, race, religion or ethnic background.

Deadline for applications is 11 December 2015. Applications received later than this will not be considered.

Contact detail

How to apply:
by e-mail or by post
Send application to
by e-Mail:


by post:

IGZ Großbeeren/Erfurt e.V.
Theodor-Echtermeyer-Weg 1
14979 Großbeeren

Job profile

Working hours
Contract duration
Type of job
PhD Project
Work experience
job experience is not required
Germany (Thüringen)
Working place
99090 Erfurt - Kühnhausen
Area of expertise
Biology & Life Sciences