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Research MSc position (2years) in Plant-Soil Microbiology

Project Description

Project overview - general:
This position is part of the European SusCROP consortium PotatoMETAbiome that has the following background. Potato cropping currently relies largely on high inputs of fertilizers, pesticides and water. PotatoMETAbiome will contribute to the development of more sustainable forms of potato cropping by making use of the power and functional traits provided by soil microorganisms and improved interactions between plants and microbes. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to treat plants and the microbes living inside and on the plants as a single metaorganism. PotatoMETAbiome will identify major plant genes and their activation that are important for the interaction with microbes using a large number of potato lines that respond differently towards stress including pests and climate. PotatoMETAbiome will assess key microbes that support potato plants in nutrient acquisition and response mechanisms to stress. The obtained results will be implemented into field trials to test their relevance under real conditions.

Project overview - specific:
The aim of the MSc research project is to verify whether selected potato genotypes have a higher resource-use efficiency due to their interactions with microbes, which promote enhanced mobilization of sulfur and uptake by the plant roots. The candidate will carry out pot trials with potato varieties to study the plant response to fertilizer applications. The applicant will investigate the microbial contribution to plant sulfur supply in pot and field trials. Microbiological analyses will be conducted employing cultivation dependent (selective cultivation) and independent microbiological and molecular biological techniques (microscopy, DNA extraction, PCR, qPCR, fingerprinting and sequencing). In addition, enzymatic and chemical analysis of the soils and plant roots will be carried out. The candidate will conduct individual and collaborative research with the consortium.
The candidate will be responsible for the data analysis and the creation of reports for dissemination among the project partners, the project stakeholders and the wider scientific community under guidance of the principal investigator

Job location:
University of Limerick, Department of Biological Sciences, Limerick, Ireland

Achim Schmalenberger -;;

Essential Criteria
• BSc (Level 8 NFQ first or second honours) or equivalent or completed a level 8 degree (first or second honours) before the start date in Biological/Life Sciences, Environmental/Agricultural Sciences or a related field.
• Experience at undergraduate level in microbiological techniques, general or environmental chemistry, agricultural or biological sciences.

Desirable Criteria
• Assists the research leader and team members to conduct research as set out in the grant proposal.
• Will conduct literature and database searches and interpret and present the findings of the literature searches.
• Is capable of following experimental protocols and can modify protocols or is able to develop new protocols.
• Has experience in microbiological techniques such as media preparation, aseptic handling or working with pure cultures.
• Has experience in general or environmental chemistry and analytics, for instance measuring enzymatic reactions using a photometer or able to set up chemical solutions with a defined molarity.
• Is capable to analyse and interpret results of own research with the support of the supervisor.
• Is able to learn new techniques and procedures in molecular biology and related subjects under supervision.
• Has knowledge in soil nutrient cycling, plant nutrition and plant growth.
• Has practical skills in extractions of DNA from soil or microorganisms.
• Has knowledge in PCR applications and DNA analysis.
• Is experienced in cultivation of bacteria using general or selective media.

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Funding Notes

The successful candidate will be offered a 2 year stipend (18,000 Euro per annum) and 2 year EU fees. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to get into a short-term contract as a Research Assistant after successful completion of the MSc or transferred to a 3 year PhD after a successful evaluation.


Please send your CV and letter of motivation to [email protected]

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