PhD Student Position in Aquaculture Microbiology
Wageningen University

PhD Student Position in Aquaculture Microbiology

Location Wageningen

We are looking for

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate with a clear interest in one or more of the following research fields: microbial ecology/microbiology, genomics, host-microbe interactions, bioinformatics. A background in aquaculture is strongly desirable.

Information regarding the position

Microbes play an essential role in many ecosystems and their importance is well recognized across agricultural production systems, including aquaculture. The fish-associated microbes, known also as the microbiome, are diverse and vitally important for the fish-host survival and functioning. For example, microbes in the fish gut are involved in nutrient acquisition, disease resistance and overall homeostasis. In fact, hosts and their microbes are considered as a discrete ecological unit, the holobiont, that interacts with the environment. Fish are exposed to environmental challenges such as fluctuations in salinity and/or temperature and understanding the contribution of their microbiomes adapting to changing conditions is highly important (Kokou et al., 2018, in eLife). In addition, fish come in contact with a myriad of microbes, among them also opportunistic, that can affect their health. In aquaculture (recirculating) systems, controlling the microorganisms associated with the system (i.e. the aquaculture microbiome) has always been essential in order to maintain fish health. To further optimize aquaculture production, we require a better understanding of the interactions between the system and the fish microbiome and how these microbes contribute to maintain fish health in challenging environments.
The aim of the PhD project will be to understand the impact of the aquaculture environment on the host and its associated microbiome, including effects on fish performance. You will use growth parameters in combination with genomic/molecular approaches to assess fish performance (i.e. stress-related gene expression), as well as next generation sequencing and bioinformatic tools to characterize compositional and functional changes within the fish microbiome (i.e. skin, gut, gills) and aquaculture microbiome (i.e. environmental microbes in recirculating system water).

We ask

We ask a Master degree in a relevant biological field (i.e. marine/fish biology, aquaculture, genomics/molecular biology, microbiology/microbial ecology).

The candidate should have:

  • A strong interest in host-microbe interactions.
  • Experience with genomic tools.
  • Strong interest in fundamental and applied research.
  • Creative and innovative skills.
  • Good organisational and (written and spoken) communication skills in English, as well as ability to collaborate with others.

We offer

We offer a PhD position for a period of 48 months which is divided over two periods: a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended with 30 months after successful evaluation. Gross salary will increase from €2,325 per month in the first year up to €2,972 in the last year, based on full-time employment (38 hours a week). You will enrol in the WIAS graduate school at Wageningen University, which offers a wide range of excellent career broadening and deepening courses. As this project is part of a broader industry collaboration, you will interact with and be able to learn from both academic and private sector professionals.

In addition, we offer:

  • 8% holiday allowance and a structural year-end bonus of 8.3%.
  • Excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions.
  • Flexible working hours and vacations can in consultation with colleagues be settled.
  • An excellent pension scheme via ABP.
  • A flexible working time: the possibility to work a maximum of 2 hours per week extra and thereby to build up extra leave.
  • A choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan.
  • Sports facilities available on the campus.
  • A lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented and ample opportunities for own initiative in a creative learning environment.
  • A versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.
Starting date is expected to be August or September, 2020.

More information

Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from: Dr. Fotini Kokou ( and Prof. Geert Wiegertjes (
For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at

Closing date for applications: May 31st, 2020.

We are

Wageningen University & Research Aquaculture and Fisheries (WUR-AFI) aims to explore the potential of aquatic animals and aquatic ecosystems for sustainable fish production through academic research and training. (

Wageningen University & Research

Delivering a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That's our focus – each and every day. Within our domain, healthy food and living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society – such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don’t do this alone. Every day, 6,500 people work on ‘the quality of life’, turning ideas into reality, on a global scale.

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