PhD position - role of microbes driving plant-soil feedbacks in Mediterreanean forests

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    University of Lleida
    Agricultural sciencesForest sciences
    Agricultural sciencesSoil science
    Biological sciencesBiodiversity
    Biological sciencesBotany
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    31/07/2019 00:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Spain › Lleida

PhD position - role of microbes driving plant-soil feedbacks in Mediterreanean forests

The PhD position is at Department of Crop and Forest Sciences - Agrotecnio Center of University of Lleida, (Catalonia, Spain). http://www.agrotecnio.org/. PhD position is fully funded, and will be part of the PADRINO research grant: RTI2018-095711-B-I00 funded by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (Spain). The position will be developed in the "Forest Microbiomics and Plant Pathology" lab and will be supervised by Jonàs Oliva:

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jonas_Oliva https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=00sn0VEAAAAJ&view_op=lis...


Tree diversity has been associated with increased productivity, biodiversity, and larger aesthetic and landscape values. However, the very mechanism by which tree diversity is created and maintained in nature is not well understood. Recent work in tropical forests suggests that tree diversity is driven by negative plant-soil feedbacks caused by soil pathogens. The current paradigm states that as a tree species becomes dominant, specific pathogens for the dominant species also increase. This shift in soil microorganisms gives an advantage to rare tree species, thus preventing the expansion of a single species and favouring tree mixture. Nevertheless, soil microbiota may also cause positive feedbacks, as for instance, bacteria or mycorrhizal fungi may favour conspecific mixtures, and therefore counteract negative feedbacks caused by pathogens. As we move away from the tropical area, the direction of the feedbacks may also be influenced by abiotic factors.

In our group, we aim at studying plant soil feedbacks in global context and to use metagenomics to assign feedbacks to specific microbial species or to functional genes. In order to address this question, University of Lleida (UdL) is leading an international initiative to study plant-soil feedbacks in collaboration with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala (Sweden), and the Washington University in St. Louis (US). In this consortium, we are setting a global gradient of experiments, ranging from boreal to temperate, Mediterranean or tropical environments to explore how soil microbial communities and specifically pathogens drive aboveground diversity. The candidate will work in the Mediterranean part of the project, and will contribute to the other parts as well. The PhD will consist of three projects, one in which an experimental setup will test at which phylogenetic level plant‐soil feedback operates (genus or species), in which pine‐oak combinations will be used as model mixtures. Another project will consist in studying which pathogens are specific of each species by comparing mixed and pure stands of several tree species in Spain. The third project will consist in exploring the use of functional genes in order to describe pathogen communities in the soil.


Terms of employment:

The position as a PhD fellow is available for a 3-year period starting in October/November 2019 (tentative). The selected candidate will have a contract provided by the University of Lleida (gross salary between 14,400 and 15,600 €/year).


Application procedure:

The application, in English, must be submitted by e-mail to the address: jonas.oliva@pvcf.udl.cat

The application must contain:

  • Motivation letter in English, in which the applicants should state the reasons why this particular project is appealing to them, and how it connects to their previous experiences (maximum 1 page).
  • One recommendation letter signed by academic referees, including contact details
  • Short CV (maximum 2 pages), including academic performance, publications, work experience and other merits and skills (CVs exceeding 2 page will not be considered).

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
University of Lleida
Av. Alcalde Rovira Roure, 191

EURAXESS offer ID: 423528


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