Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

PhD position for an Early Stage Researcher (ESR) in insect pathology - Covert infections with RNA viruses in the Mediterranean fruit fly (Valencia / Wageningen NL)

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    University of Valencia
    Biological sciences
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    26/01/2020 23:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Spain › Valencia
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

High throughput sequencing methods have revealed multiple RNA viruses that produce covert infections in many insects. Most of these viruses belong to two arthropod-specific families, Iflaviridae and Dicistroviridae. Those covert viral infections do not produce obvious symptoms and their detrimental effects have only been described for beneficial insects (bees and silkworms). Three novel RNA viruses have been recently described for the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) and two of them were found at very high titres in most of the colonies used for the production of sterile males in SIT programs worldwide. Preliminary analyses have reported earlier mortality of insects infected with one of these viruses, threatening the competitiveness of the males when released into the field. However, how those viruses affect the insect’s physiology and immune defence as well as the processes regulating viral infectivity are mostly unknown. This knowledge is essential to design and explore methods to eradicate those viruses from Medfly colonies but also from other insect colonies covertly infected with RNA viruses.


The successful candidate will work under the supervision of Salvador Herrero at Universitat de València (ES) (CBP group www.cbp.com.es) and Vera Ros at Wageningen University & Research (NL) (Laboratory of Virology www.vir.wur.nl ) to develop a project on Covert infections with RNA viruses in the Mediterranean fruit fly. The candidate will be part of an European-wide network, INSECT DOCTORS. The candidate will be enrolled in the Joint PhD programme between the Universitat de València and Wageningen University and Research.

This position will be based at the Universitat of València and will include a secondment for a minimum of 9 months at Wageningen University and Research.

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: www.insectdoctors.eu

Salary: Remuneration is in line with EC rules for Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN projects: https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/wp/2018-2020/main/h2020-wp1820-msca_en.pdf

Eligibility criteria

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.

1. 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.

2. You have not been awarded a doctoral degree before.

3. 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 SPAIN. 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.

Selection process

Please send your application in a single PDF file to sherrero@uv.es and please write INSECT DOCTORS ESR8 in the subject line of your email. Your application should consist of:

  • Cover Letter, detailing your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project (max. 2 pages)
  • Your CV
  • Your full contact details
  • A statement about your research interests
  • A copy of the certificate for your Diploma and Masters Degree
  • Contact details for at least 2 referees
  • Please indicate in your application whether you have also applied or intend to apply for other PhD positions in the INSECT DOCTORS programme

Offer Requirements

    Biological sciences: Master Degree or equivalent
    ENGLISH: Excellent


• A MSc degree in molecular life sciences, biology, entomology, virology or a related field

• Experience in molecular biological techniques, a proven ability to organize laboratory experiments and an affinity to work with insects

• Skills in experimental design and statistical analysis

• Ability to work in an international research team in a collaborative spirit and eagerness to participate in the INSECT DOCTORS training program

• Willingness to carry out research in Spain and the Netherlands

• Fluency in English, both written and spoken


We are looking for a highly motivated and enthusiastic early stage researcher with a strong interest in Insect Pathology with emphasis on Insect Virology and Insect Molecular Biology. The successful applicant will:

- Evaluate the fitness-costs associated with the presence of RNA viruses on infected Medflies and sterilized males

- Unravel the molecular processes that regulate the covert/overt interaction of RNA viruses with its host

- Develop methodologies for the eradication of viral infections

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
University of Valencia
Avenida Blasco Ibañez, 13

EURAXESS offer ID: 468794


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