IRTA is currently seeking an enthusiastic and motivated PhD candidate to join the team of our Research Programs of Sustainability in Biosystems and Sustainable Plant Protection. We invite applications from ambitious candidates with relevant research experience and passion to conduct research and innovation activities on the valorization of organic fertilizers and enhancement of soil functions through novel fungal-based biofertilizers.

This PhD thesis will study and validate new added-value biofertilizers manufactured from organic wastes and by-products from the agri-food sector, inoculated with fungi known as dark septate endophytes (DSE). Such novel biofertilizers may contribute to reduce the dependence on the use of mineral fertilizers and pesticides and the associated environmental emissions, they might improve soil health and quality, including an increase in soil organic carbon (SOC), while maintaining and even favouring increasing crop productivity.

However, little is known on the biodiversity, ecophysiology, and potential applications of DSE, which will be the main research topics of this dissertation.

In order to achieve the research objectives, the candidate will be responsible for planning a research strategy and perform the necessary laboratory and field experiments in order to:

– Isolate and characterize a DSE strain collection with suitable biofertilizer traits. This will require the development of specific isolation methods, molecular identification, and physiological tests in the lab.

– Select DSE strains that can viably be inoculated and thrive on different organic fractions (e.g., compost and digestate), and in combination with other beneficial soil microorganisms, such as arbuscular mycorrizal fungi (AMF).

– Produce selected biofertilizers and validate their performance through assays on model horticultural crops.

– Gain a deeper understanding of the interaction between the inoculated DSE and AMF, the rhizosphere autochthonous microbial populations, and the host plant.

– Study the nutrients’ dynamics (N and P) and determine the C sequestration potential associated with the application of fungal-based biofertilizers.

– Present and discuss the obtained results in accordance with the existing literature, and justify the main achievements, shortcomings, and remaining challenges.

– Write the main research results in at least four scientific articles to be published in indexed peer-reviewed journals.


Salary: Salary: The financial remuneration will be €1,236.39/gross per month (€17,309.45/gross per annum) for the first and second years. For the third year, it will be €1,324.10/gross per month (€18,545.84/gross per annum) which will be subject to the corresponding withholdings, pursuant to prevailing regulations, and to the collective employment agreement of IRTA. (1)

Offer Requirements

  • REQUIRED EDUCATION LEVEL Agricultural sciences: Master Degree or equivalent

Required Research Experiences

  • RESEARCH FIELDAgricultural sciences › Soil science


– Candidates must hold one of the following degrees: Biology, Biotechnology, or Agronomy.

a) A Master’s in Soil Science/Microbiology or Plant Physiology, or similar.

b) To be in a position to access a doctoral program according to the requirements of Catalan universities, e.g. accrediting between 60 and 120 ECTS credits at the official university master’s degree level or equivalent.

– The candidate must not have a PhD.

Specific Requirements

– Laboratory experience in environmental chemistry and/or microbiology.

– Experience in research planning and implementation.

– Basic knowledge of bioinformatics and/or statistical methods.

– Good communication skills.

– Driving license

Selection process

Selection Committee:

. Interview with preselected candidates.

. To send an e-mail for those who have not been selected by the Selection Committee.

. Committee Selection Agreement with the selected candidate, giving reasons for the rest to be excluded.

. Notification by e-mail to the candidates who have been interviewed but not selected.

(10-15 following working days)

To send to HR all the needed official documentation in order to make the work contract and co-ordination for establishing the start of the employment (12-16 following working days).

How to apply:

You can do it by entering in out job centre. If you have any questions about the job offers, please don’t hesitate to contact us by email at

Application Deadline: 12/06/2022 21:00 – Europe/Athens

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