Doctoral scholarship holder Microbial ecology

WorkplaceAntwerpen, Flemish Region, Belgium


Department: Department of Biology
Regime Full-time

The Department of Biology in the Faculty of Science is looking for a full-time

Doctoral scholarship holder in the field of microbial ecology


Microbial ecosystem functioning at oxic-anoxic interfaces in wetlands

Wetland (freshwater marshes, saltmarshes, mangroves) are highly biodiverse ecosystems, which are inundated by water, either permanently or seasonally, and where oxygen-free processes prevail. Wetlands represent a globally significant pool of soil carbon that has been accumulating for millennia, and are an important sink for carbon dioxide (“blue carbon”). Some of the organic material that is deposited in wetlands is degraded by the ambient microbial community, while some is sequestered. Efficient decomposition is hampered by the lack of oxygen, and micro-organisms living at the oxic-anoxic interface in wetlands have evolved a variety of strategies to overcome this obstacle and effectively decompose organic matter. Recently, new mechanisms have been discovered how microbes can overcome the problem of staying in contact with oxygen while “mining” for electron donors and other resources in anoxic environments. Examples are long filamentous bacteria that are capable of long-distance electron transport as well as fungi that can act as O2 transporting vessels. These mechanisms may be important near the inundation layer as well as at the oxic-anoxic interface around plant roots. Within this project the evolutionary and ecological background of microbial strategies to overcome O2 limitation in wetlands will be studied in detail. The PhD candidate will explore which evolutionary strategies are used and how they may affect the geochemical cycling of carbon and other elements in peatlands.

Approaches: The microbial ecosystem at the interface of oxic and anoxic layers in wetlands will be studied using the following multidisciplinary approaches: in situ sampling of oxic-anoxic interfaces in various wetlands in Northwestern Europe, laboratory incubations of sediments with controlled oxic-anoxic interfaces, characterization of the pore water and solid phase geochemistry, determination of redox gradients by microsensor profiling, state-of-the-art microscopy, amplicon sequencing of microbial groups/genes, meta-genomics and/or meta-transcriptomics.

You will work actively on the preparation and defence of a PhD thesis of Microbial Ecology within the “Global Change Ecology” and “Microbial Systems Technology” Excellence Centres. You will publish scientific articles related to the research project.

You will carry out a limited number of teaching and research support tasks for the Department of Biology and Faculty of Sciences (supervision of practical courses, Msc- and Erasmus-students).


Your teaching competences are in line with the University of Antwerp’s educational vision .

Your research qualities are in line with the faculty and university research policies .

Experience in a subset of the above listed microbial or biogeochemical techniques is an advantage.

What we offer

We offer a doctoral scholarship for a period of two years. Following a positive evaluation, the scholarship can be renewed once for another two-year period.

The planned start date is 1 April 2020 , or as soon as possible after that date.

Your monthly scholarship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts for doctoral scholarship holders on the pay scales for contract research staff (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP).

You will do most of your work at Campus Drie Eiken in a dynamic and stimulating working environment.

Want to apply?

You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform up to and including 1 February 2021 (by midnight Brussels time). Click on the 'Apply' button, complete the online application form and be sure to include the following attachments: a motivation letter and your academic CV.

The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure.

If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions or send an email to jobs . If you have any questions about the job itself, please contact Prof. Erik Verbruggen, erik.verbruggen of prof. Filip Meysman, filip.meysman of +32 494 064 327.

The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.

They are necessary for the proper functioning of the website and can not be switched off. They are generally defined only as a result of actions you carry out and that enable you to make use of the services we offer (definition of your privacy preferences, connection, filling in forms, etc.). You can configure your browser so that these cookies are blocked or you are warned about these cookies, but then some parts of the site will no longer work.

They allow us to measure surfing patterns and determine which sections of our website were visited, and to measure habits and improve our services. They show us which pages are the most and the least popular and how visitors move around the site. If you do not allow these cookies, we do not know when you visited our site and we can not check their habits.

They enable improved functionality and customization of the site. They can be activated by us or by third parties whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies, some or all of the services may not work properly.

They can be set up by our advertising partners on our site to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant ads on other sites. They do not store personal information directly, but are based on the unique identification of your browser and device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will see less targeted ads.


In your application, please refer to and reference JobID 4268.

This site uses cookies and analysis tools to improve the usability of the site. More information. |