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PhD position – Coexistence of marine viruses and their phytoplankton hosts

The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) invites applications for a PhD candidate in Marine Microbial Ecology in the Department of …

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Spui, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 uur
€ 2325 - € 2972 per maand


The Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) invites applications for a PhD candidate in Marine Microbial Ecology in the Department of Freshwater and Marine Ecology (FAME).

The selected PhD candidate will be appointed at the University of Amsterdam where the PhD thesis will be defended. The research will be largely executed at the NIOZ – Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research on Texel in the Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (MMB). Within MMB microbial communities in all types of marine environments, from estuaries to the deep ocean, are explored. Using field and experimental approaches, the diversity, physiology and activity of eukaryotic phytoplankton, prokaryotes and viruses are studied in diverse marine environmental settings.

The PhD research project will be supervised by Prof. Corina Brussaard and aims to investigate the coexistence of marine viruses and their phytoplankton hosts. The project will have both an experimental and a theoretical component. As such, the project will be performed in close collaboration with Prof. Jef Huisman and Dr. Yael Artzy-Randrup for the modelling component.

Small phytoplankton are the main primary producers in the oceans and form the base of most marine food webs. Understanding the mechanisms of their coexistence has therefore been long an important topic of study. Traditionally, the main top-down controlling factor considered to affect phytoplankton coexistence is selective grazing by zooplankton. More recently, infection by lytic viruses and subsequent lysis of the host cells has been shown to be a significant loss factor, indirectly promoting succession of phytoplankton species. Our current understanding of marine virus competition for the same host is, however, still in its infancy.

The overall aim of the current project is to study the coexistence of marine viruses and their eukaryotic phytoplankton hosts, whereby specific attention is given to competition of different viruses infecting the same phytoplankton host strain and the resulting eco-evolutionary dynamics.

The project will be mainly lab-based and makes use of the unique phytoplankton-virus collection at NIOZ. It combines advances in microbial ecology with genomics and mathematical models of species interactions.


We are looking for a highly motivated researcher with:

  • a MSc degree in Microbial Ecology, Aquatic Ecology, Marine Biology, Biological Oceanography, Theoretical Biology, Epidemiology (or related field);
  • a keen interest in research in an interdisciplinary scientific research environment;
  • proven experience with experimental research involving the cultivation of microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, phytoplankton, viruses, fungi);
  • preferably experience with mathematical models of species interactions (e.g., in ecology, microbiology or epidemiology);
  • preferably experience with basic techniques in genomics and bioinformatics;
  • fluency in oral and written English.


The position will start in Summer 2019. The full-time appointment will be on a temporary basis for a maximum period of four years (18 months plus a further 30 months after a positive evaluation) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. The PhD student is also expected to assist in teaching of undergraduates. The full-time gross monthly salary will range from €2,325 in the first year to €2,972 in the final year, according to the Dutch salary scales for PhD students. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable. The annual salary will be increased by 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus.

Additional information

For questions about this vacancy:

Applications should be submitted via this link below ultimately at 31 March 2019.

Applications should include: a letter of motivation (max 1 page), a detailed CV (including list of Publications if any), and the names and contact addresses of two references from whom information about the candidate can be obtained. Please combine all these items into a single PDF.

The interviews will take place at the NIOZ, Texel, on 17-18 April.