PhD Scholarship in the DFF project: Plant-microbiome interactions in modern and ancient barley
University of Copenhagen, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (PLEN)

PhD Scholarship in the DFF project: Plant-microbiome interactions in modern and ancient barley


We offer a 3-year PhD Scholarship in the DFF-FNU project: Plant-microbiome interactions in modern and ancient barley. The project is a collaboration between Department of Biology (BIO), Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (PLEN), Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen and Department Agroecology, Aarhus University. The scholarship starts by the end of 2019 (November 1st or shortly thereafter); the PhD candidate should expect research activities at all three institutions.


Area of research

Plant breeding has provided high yielding crop genotypes; still these depend on extensive and precise chemical input. Thus modern agriculture largely neglects that the rhizosphere microbiome can protect against diseases and promote plant nutrient availability and uptake. In this project, we will assess the extent of plant-microbiome interactions between varieties of ancient as well as modern barley strains and different microbiomes under different nutrient regimes. We will investigate to which extent modern varieties have lost the ability to interact with the microbiome with focus on plant/bacteria/micro-predator interactions. We expect that multi-element plant tissue analyses, combined with sequencing of the root/leaf transcriptome, will reveal genes and pathways involved in these interactions. In parallel, we will sequence the microbiome to capture the underlying microbial diversity dynamics that influence the interactions. Our results will be a significant contribution to the understanding of the role of the microbiome in plant production, and may facilitate more efficient nutrient utilization, higher disease resistance and better plant quality.


As a PhD-student in Plant-microbiome interactions in modern and ancient barley you will be part of an interdisciplinary research team that jointly addresses one of the major challenges in modern ecology; i.e. how to understand, link and take advantage of the relations between plants and the soil microorganisms that surround them. You will culture specific soil microorganisms and microbiomes, establish their identity through sequencing and investigate how they affect plant nutrient availability. Thus, your work will include complex microbial cultures, culture techniques, controlled plant growth experiments, multi-element analysis using atomic spectroscopy and next generation sequencing. Good lab-skills are therefore essential. Dissemination of research findings via scientific articles is also a major focus point and documentation of good writing skills is important.


Further information about the project on:


Flemming Ekelund, Department of Biology is Principal supervisor.

Co-supervisors: Kristian Holst Laursen, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Plant and Soil Science Section & Copenhagen Plant Science Centre and Mette Vestergård, Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University.


Job description

The position is available for a 3-year period and your key tasks as a PhD student at SCIENCE are:

  • To manage and carry through your research project

  • Attend PhD courses

  • Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis

  • Teach and disseminate your research

  • To stay at an external research institution for a few months, preferably abroad

  • Work for the department


We seek highly motivated individuals with (most, but not necessarily all of) the following qualifications:

  1. A successful MSc in Biology, Agronomy or similar with good results

  2. Experience with scientific work

  3. Documented ability to analyse literature input and original data and present it understandable in oral and written English

  4. A genuine interest in soil organisms and plants and basic skills in microbiology and plant nutrition

  5. Experience with next generation sequencing of microbial communities

  6. Collaborative skills

  7. Basic knowledge on statistics and data analysis

  8. Ambition, fondness of hard work and aim for a career in science


Some knowledge on Bioinformatics will be an advantage.


Terms of employment

The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff.


Terms of appointment and payment are in accordance with the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State (AC).


The starting salary for candidates with an MSc degree will be a minimum of DKK 325.625 (approx. € 43,400) including annual supplement (+ pension up to DKK 44,980). Negotiation for salary supplement is possible.


Application Procedure

The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.


Please include

  • Cover Letter, with details on your motivation and background for applying for the PhD project

  • CV

  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)

  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any),

  • Full contact details (Name, address, telephone & email) of 1-3 professional referees


The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.


The deadline for applications is September 15, 2019, 23:59 GMT +2.


After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee. Afterwards an assessment committee will be appointed to evaluate the selected applications. The applicants will be notified of the composition of the committee and the final selection of a successful candidate will be made by the Head of Department, based on the recommendations of the assessment committee and the interview committee.


The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant and the above mentioned skills. The successful candidate will then be requested to formally apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD school of Science. You can read more about the recruitment process at


Applications received after the deadline, or with insufficient documentation or otherwise not complying with the above requirements, may not be considered. It is expected that the successful candidate will be enrolled at the PhD School of the Faculty of Science starting by the end of 2019.



For further information about this position, please contact Flemming Ekelund (  **Please do not post your application to this address**


General information about PhD programmes at SCIENCE is available at

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Bioloxy


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