Microbial ecologist/Phytopathologist (PhD)

Published on
January 29, 2020
Location Wageningen
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We are looking for

PhD position for 4 years.

This PhD trajectory is about unravelling the question: Is the microbiome on seeds beneficial for establishment and development of the seedling towards biotic stresses? The approach for testing this hypothesis is to expose seeds with an intact versus reduced seed microbiome (i.e. by sanitary treatments) to relevant pathogens and monitor the effect on plant health. Different seed types will be the basis for selection of model crops.
Secondly we aim to answer the question whether an observed variation in seed resilience and seedling health of selected model crops can be correlated to alterations in the microbial composition and functionality. To this end state of the art techniques (such as amplicon sequencing and full metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analyses) will be applied in order to discover microbial communities and/or functions that relate to seed resilience and seedling health.
This PhD position is embedded in a larger project that is supported by the Topsector T&U, a Dutch foundation sponsoring innovations in the domain of horticulture (T) and starting materials (U). This research project is supported by a number of companies and institutions that have expertise with seed production and seed technology.  

We ask

For this position, we are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with the following qualifications:

  • an MSc in biology or related – above-average level;
  • a profound biological interest – a PhD is not ‘just a job’ – it is a (great) opportunity to develop yourself;
  • experience and/or interest in microbiome research, biological control, crop protection, phytopathology, molecular biology and horticulture;
  • a background in analysing complex biological community data is an advantage;
  • experience with or affinity for (bio)informatics and/or statistics;
  • well-developed writing skills in English. 
    This position requires an excellent English language proficiency (a mininum of CEFR C1 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page;
  • a team player, as this PhD project will be part of a larger project.
You will publish research results in scientific publications and translate them for a wide audience. You easily communicate with fellow scientists and project team members as well as stakeholders in English.

We offer

We offer a full-time position (36 hours), initially for 12 months after which an evaluation will be made (go/no go moment). Gross salary per month € 2317,- in the first year rising to € 2962,-  per month in the fourth year, for a fulltime appointment (36 hours – CAO DLO).

IIn addition, we offer:

  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural end-of-year bonus of 3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be determined in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 171 vacation hours, the possibility to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
  • the possibility to work flexible to balance work and life;
  • a flexible model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • make use of the sports facilities on campus.
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment.
We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.


More information

Contact details:
Any enquiries on the position can be directed to Dr. Joeke Postma, co promotor, via or +31 317  480 664 or Dr. Jürgen Köhl, project leader, via or +31 317 480 594 or Dr. Willem Jan de Kogel, Business Unit Manager, via or +31 317 480 654.

Your application should include:

  1. An application letter explaining your motivation and aptitude for the position.
  2. A detailed CV including personal details, academic training, work experience and a list of publications. Please also include language skills, computing and (academic) software skills.
  3. Scanned copies of academic certificates (MSc)
  4. Names and contact details (email address) of at least two references.

You can apply up to and including March 1, 2020.
For this position, you can only apply on line:

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With approximately 30 locations, 6,000 employees, and 12,000 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at the special career site.

The PhD candidate will be based at the Wageningen Plant Research Business Unit Biointeractions & Plant Health. Prof. Dr. Wietse de Boer of Wageningen University, Soil Biology Group, will be the promotor.

Wageningen Plant Research
Wageningen Plant Research is part of Wageningen University & Research. The Biointeractions & Plant Health business unit focuses on solutions for diseases and pests in agriculture and horticulture. While current crop protection agents reduce yield losses, they often have a negative impact on people and the environment. Bio-interactions & Plant Health develops solutions such as biological crop protection and cropping systems which are so robust that they repel diseases and pests themselves, offering opportunities for sustainable food production worldwide. The interaction between plants and diseases & pests is the focal point of our research. We study harmful and beneficial insects, fungi, viruses and bacteria and analyse their effect on plant damage above and below ground. We also developed refined methods to detect harmful organisms, both during production and further on in the chain.

Equal opportunities employer
We are an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons regardless of their race, sex, disability, religion/belief, sexual orientation or age.

Apply now