PhD Position Daphnia_Microbiome KU Leuven Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity Conservation Belgium



You will be embedded in an international, enthusiastic and dynamic team with ample expertise in using aquatic invertebrates as model systems to address key questions at the intersection of ecology and evolution ( Our team has excellent research facilities including temperature-controlled rooms and well-equipped ecophysiology and microbiology laboratories. You will be co-supervised by Dr. Lizanne Janssens, Dr. Shinjini Mukherjee, and professor Ellen Decaestecker ( who have strong expertise in studying the gut microbiome. Leuven is a beautiful historical university city with a very high and pleasant standard of living ( Leuven is a 15-minute train ride away from Brussels International Airport and a 20-minutes train ride from Brussels itself. Brussels is one of the best-connected cities in Western Europe; Amsterdam, Paris and London are all reachable within 2 hours by train. The university, founded in 1425, has a top research and teaching standard ( The KU Leuven features consistently in Europe's top-15 universities and has been elected by Reuters as most innovative university in Europe for three years in a row.



We invite applications for a PhD positionto study the role of the gut microbiota in the evolution of stress tolerance inhost organisms. The focus will be on thermal stress. The model host system willbe the water flea Daphnia magna, ofwhich we have clones in culture that evolved thermal resistance. These cloneswere obtained from resurrection ecology, experimental evolution and natural thermalgradients.


The PhD project includes controlledexposure experiments measuring heat tolerance and respirometry, metageneticanalyses of gut microbiota communities and gut microbiota transplant experimentsbetween control and warm-adapted host clones. In addition, experimentalevolution of stress resistance will be studied in the gut microbiome.



We are looking for a highly motivated student with an excellent academic record, a strong interest in evolutionary ecology, ecophysiology, genomics and microbiology, and a high ability for accurate lab work. A very good command of both spoken and written English is required. Proven microbiological skills are an asset, but training can be provided.



We offer a full-time job initially for a period of one year, but extendable to a total of four years pending good evaluation. Funding is available, but we request and give support for applying for your own scholarship.



For more information please contact Prof. dr. Robby Stoks, tel.: +32 16 32 37 10, mail:


You can apply for this job no later than March 31, 2019 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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