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PhD position - The enemy of your enemy's enemy: multi-trophic interactions in hyperparasitoid ecology

Hyperparasitoids are fascinating insects that lay their eggs in larvae or pupae of primary parasitoids. In our curiosity driven research programme, we …

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Droevendaalsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur


Hyperparasitoids are fascinating insects that lay their eggs in larvae or pupae of primary parasitoids. In our curiosity driven research programme, we identified that some hyperparasitoids find their parasitoid host by using plant odours derived from a complex multi-trophic interaction chain. The hyperparasitoids use plant odours induced by feeding of parasitized herbivores to locate the parasitoid larvae that are concealed in the herbivore body. The main aim of this PhD project is to mechanistically understand the interaction chain involved in hyperparasitoid host location and the role of indirect interaction chains in community organisation across four trophic levels.

In the project you will aim to

  1. unravel plant responses to parasitized aphids and caterpillars that allow associated hyperparasitoids to locate their host;
  2. identify the physiological changes in aphids and caterpillars after parasitism; and
  3. establish a causal relationship of which mechanisms in the multi-trophic interaction chain affect hyperparasitoid host location and community composition in the field.
You will use molecular techniques such as RNA-seq and CRISPR-Cas9-mediated targeted gene mutagenesis, insect behavioural observations, as well as field studies. Within the project you will be closely collaborating with a technician and post-doc as well as researchers at international institutes with expertise in molecular biology, ecology, entomology and plant sciences.


Our ideal candidate has a strong background in molecular ecology, behavioural ecology and/or entomology. Some experience with molecular techniques such as RNA-seq, CRISPR-Cas9 and/or bioinformatics will be considered as advantage. You should be curious for fundamental sciences and enjoy to combine molecular biology with field ecology. We are looking for a highly motivated candidate who likes to work in a multidisciplinary team in a collaborative spirit. Proficiency in the English language is a prerequisite.


We offer a full-time position (38 hours), initially for 1 year after which a go/no go decision will be taken on extension with another three years. Gross salary per month € 2222,- in the first year rising to € 2840,- per month in the fourth year, for a fulltime appointment. The candidate will be based at the Laboratory of Entomology in Wageningen in the research team of Dr. Erik Poelman

Additional information

Information on the research: Dr. Erik H. Poelman , +31(0)317 485433, erik.poelman@wur.nl
Information on the selection procedure: Mrs. Dorien Wissink (dorien.wissink@wur.nl).

You can apply up and until April 16, 2018
For this position you can only apply on line: www.wageningenur.nl/career

Don't email directly to the people mentioned above but use the website to apply.


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, 5,000 employees, and 10,000 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 thespecial career site.

The research on hyperparasitoid ecology is embedded in the research team of Dr. Erik H. Poelman at the Laboratory of Entomology Wageningen University. Our team studies community ecology of plant-insect interactions and consists of ecologists, entomologists, molecular biologists and computational modellers. At the Laboratory of Entomology the research teams consist of ambitious scientists and we aim at an interdisciplinary approach from cellular to community level to unravel biological phenomena underlying the functioning of plant-insect communities, insect vectored diseases, insect neurobiology and insects as food and feed. The Laboratory of Entomology is part of the Plant Sciences Group of the Wageningen University and Research Centre. For further information about working at Wageningen UR, take a look at www.jobsat.wur.nl