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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:

‘Unraveling 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 Iron, Fe(II), is furthermore used as electron donor by Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria. A nitrate-reducing, Fe(II)-oxidizing enrichment culture was obtained from a freshwater pond and maintained under autotrophic conditions. Based on several observations, we hypothesize that the Fe(II)-oxidizer might be able to internally produce oxygen (e.g. by using nitrogen species similar to the nitrite-dependent anaerobic oxidation of methane) in order to survive under anoxic conditions. The fascinating metabolic mechanisms and the reasons for the survival of the Fe(II)-oxidizer under nitrate-reducing, autotrophic conditions remain to be resolved in this PhD project.

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 the enrichment culture. Metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, and metaproteomics in tandem with stable-isotope probing will be applied to examine the metabolic pathway of iron(II)-oxidizing bacteria. Labeling experiments with 18O-nitrate and the application of fluorescent dyes specific for intracellular reactive oxygen species might further provide experimental proof for internal oxygen production.

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 January 1st 2017 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 will be arranged by the administration of the University of Tübingen (salary TVL E13, 65%, including health insurance, 3 years). Disabled persons will be preferred in case of equal qualification.


Contact detail

How to apply:
More information can be found on the website:
Send application to
Applications including CV, motivation letter, overview of techniques and methods used in the past, transcripts and contact address of two referees should be send by email before November 17th 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
Email: sara.kleindienst(at)uni-tuebingen.de


Job profile

Working hours
Contract duration
Type of job
PhD Project
Work experience
job experience is not required
Germany (Baden-Württemberg)
Working place
72074 Tübingen
Area of expertise
Geo Sciences, Biology & Life Sciences, Chemistry