PhD position: Nudivirus replication mechanism

Published on
November 29, 2019
Location Wageningen
Respond Click here to respond

We are looking for

  • Are you interested in unravelling complex biological relationships at a molecular level?
  • Are you intrigued by endogenized viruses and how they function in comparison to their free-living relatives?
  • Do you want to participate in an innovative European training network to assist the upcoming industry of insect mass rearing?
Nudiviruses are insect pathogens found in a variety of (reared) arthropod species and used in biocontrol of insect pests. Here we aim to unravel the replication mechanisms and gene functions of these viruses. Knowledge of nudiviruses is also very interesting from an evolutionary perspective, since ancestral nudiviruses have been domesticated by integration in the genome of parasitoid wasps. The endogenized nudivirus has retained genes for viral transcription, particle morphogenesis and infectivity. As a consequence, the parasitoid wasps deliver virus particles (bracoviruses) to the caterpillar hosts in which they lay their eggs. The purpose of these virus particles is to deliver genes for virulence proteins that suppress the caterpillar’s immune system. The virus particles contain dozens of double strand DNA circles produced from linear replication units present in the wasp genome. In this project we aim to understand how DNA replication works in free-living nudiviruses and how this translates into the ability to amplify sections of the wasp genome in the endogenised viruses.

The PhD position you are applying for is part of a large Double Degree Programme called INSECT DOCTORS, funded by the European Commission. The overall aim of the INSECT DOCTORS’ training programme is to educate a new generation of scientist that have in-depth knowledge on insect pathogens, as well as the skills to assist the upcoming industry of insect mass rearing to prevent disease outbreaks in their insect cultures.

In total, 15 PhD positions are available in this programme, and each PhD candidate will be enrolled at two universities in different European countries. Each PhD candidate will have his/her own research project involving stays in at least two countries. Several novel PhD courses will be offered to all PhD candidates of INSECT DOCTORS. Start dates for all these PhD positions are scheduled for April/May 2020. To learn more about the training network please visit our website:

We ask

In order to be eligible for a place within INSECT DOCTORS, strict rules are set out by the European Commission. So please make sure you comply with these rules when applying.

  • You must be an Early-Stage Researcher (ESR), meaning that at the day of your recruitment (= start date of your contract) you must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of your research career, after obtaining your MSc degree.
  • You have not been awarded a doctoral degree before.
  • Mobility Rule: You must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the day of your recruitment. For this particular PhD position the country of the recruiting organisation is the Netherlands. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention 1, are not taken into account.
Please note, that these rules are not negotiable.

Furthermore we are looking for a candidate with:
  • A master degree in a relevant field (Biology, Molecular Life Sciences, Biochemistry, Biotechnology). We especially invite candidates with practical experience in Entomology and Virology to respond.
  • Experience in molecular biological research and a proven ability to organize laboratory experiments; The ability to deal with large data sets using bioinformatic approaches is an advantage.
  • Eagerness to participate in the INSECT DOCTORS training programme and willingness to carry out research in the Netherlands and in France.
  • Ability to work in an international research team in a collaborative spirit.
  • Proficiency in the English language (both written and spoken). 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.
  • Some knowledge of the French language would be a bonus but is not compulsory. Enrollment to French classes at University of Tours is offered by the doctorate school as part of the PhD programme.
  • Eligibility based on the rules set by the European Committee (see above).

We offer

  • A full-time PhD position (38 hours per week) for four years, with a go-no-go decision for continuation after one year.
  • You will primarily be based at the Laboratory of Virology in Wageningen. During your PhD study, you will spend 18 months in France at the “Institut de Recherche sur la Biologie de l”Insecte” (IRBI, a subdivision of CNRS and closely connected to Tours University).
  • A double degree PhD programme involving Wageningen University (NL) and Tours University (FR).
  • As a PhD candidate, you will participate in the INSECT DOCTORS training program. Additional courses, tailored to your desires and those of the supervising team, will be offered via the Graduate School Production Ecology and Resource Conservation, and the University of Tours.
A challenging position with a gross salary per month of € 2.325,= in the first year, building op to € 2.972,= in the 4th year for a full working week of 38 hours in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement Dutch Universities.

More information

For more information about this function, please contact Monique van Oers, Professor of Virology, +31-317-485082 or by e-mail:

Alternatively, you may contact the supervisor in France, Jean-Michel Drezen:

For more information about the procedure, please contact
General information about the Laboratory of Virology can be found at

This vacancy is open until January 10, 2020.
You can only apply online through:

Please indicate in your motivation letter why you are particularly interested in this project and whether you have applied or intend to apply for other PhD positions in the INSECT DOCTORS network.

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.

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.

The Laboratory of Virology is part of the Plant Sciences Group of Wageningen University and is situated at the Wageningen Campus. Currently, about 25 researchers, including technicians, PhD students and Postdocs are employed at the Laboratory of Virology and contribute to a lively, research-driven work environment. Research at the Laboratory of Virology concentrates on various animal-, insect- and plant viruses, with special attention on virus-host and virus-vector interactions. We focus on defence mechanisms, viral evasion strategies, covert virus infections and host manipulation mechanisms. Plant viruses form a major threat for crops and ornamentals and are often transmitted by insect vectors. Arboviruses are transmitted by insects as well and cause disease in humans and animals. Insect-infecting viruses on the other hand are pathogenic to insects, and form a threat to natural populations and mass reared insects. In addition, insect viruses are used to control pest insects and in biotechnology to produce recombinant proteins for instance for vaccines.

The IRBI laboratory of CNRS is working in the field of Insect Science and has a strong record in the study of symbiotic viruses and the genome of their parasitoid wasps hosts. It is situated in the Parc de Grandmont in Tours, a nice campus in the wood, close to the center of the very lively historical city of Tours, at the heart of the “Loire Valley” (Unesco world heritage site), famous for its country side and beautiful castles.

Apply now