PhD student

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  • Published date: October 9, 2017
    • Ghent, 9000, Belgium

Job description

Diatoms produce a wide array of secondary metabolites which are known to act as pheromones or infochemicals in e.g. life cycle regulation and ecological interactions with competitors and symbionts. Integrated –omics analyses of carefully designed bioassays now allow making rapid progress in documenting the chemical nature of these molecules and the metabolic pathways they interact with. This project builds on an ongoing, close collaboration between the lab of Protistology & Aquatic Ecology of Ghent University in Belgium (W. Vyverman, K. Sabbe) and the Institute for Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, Bioorganic Analytics lab of the Friederich Schiller University in Jena, Germany (G. Pohnert), which has already resulted in the identification of the first diatom pheromones (Gillard et al. Angew. Chemie 2013, Moeys et al. Sci Rep. 2016) and chemical cues involved in competitive interactions in biofilms (Vanelslander et al. PNAS 2012).

The successful candidate will design and perform experiments with cell lines of the model pennate diatoms Cylindrotheca and Seminavis in order to elucidate the identity and role of chemical cues in diatom life cycle regulation and ecological interactions. To this end, he/she will use a combination of behavioural and physiological studies with omics approaches (incl. genomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics). The candidate will closely collaborate with other PhD students and researchers working on related topics.

Profile of the candidate

We are looking for an ambitious, highly motivated and enthusiastic researcher with a keen interest in the ecology and evolutionary biology of microorganisms.
The ability to work in a team is a pre‐requisite, as well as a sound statistical background and good experimental skills. Bioinformatics skills would represent an advantage.


You will receive a PhD scholarship according to the general conditions at Ghent University. The tax free scholarship includes full social security coverage. The initial contract will be for a period of 1 year and can be extended for a total of 3 years.
The start date is 1 December 2017 but can be slightly negotiated.
When eligible, the candidate will be encouraged to write a personal grant eligible for the FWO doctoral grant scheme or comparable grants.
All Ghent University staff members enjoy a number of benefits, such as a wide range of training and education opportunities, 38 days of paid leave, bicycle commuting reimbursement, , etc.
A complete overview of all our fringe benefits can be found on our website (in Dutch). Location: Ghent University, Laboratory of Protistology and Aquatic Ecology, Krijgslaan 281, S8, 9000 Gent, Belgium

How to apply

Applications, including c.v., motivation letter and two names for references should be sent by email to Anja Hondekyn ( before 30 October 2017.

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. Wim Vyverman (, +32 9/264 8501) or Prof. Koen Sabbe (, + 32 9/264 85 11)

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