The Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessmentis working with applied environmental science, with a national responsibility for assessing the condition of Swedish surface waters with respect to water chemistry, pollution and aquatic biota. The department has some 130 employees. The research focuses on geochemical and hydrological processes, aquatic ecology and biodiversity, as well as on aquatic ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry.

The department is part of a Soil-Water-Environment cluster, a recently established competence centre for landscape-level processes that also includes the Departments of ‘Soil and Environment’ and ‘Energy and Technology’. The breadth of expertise among the 300 members in combination with a well-equipped infrastructure creates a unique platform for high quality research as well as environmental monitoring and assessment. This PhD project will be embedded in the aquatic ecology and biodiversity section of the department and the functional microbial ecology group.

Impact of viruses on lake phytoplankton

Eutrophication or increased nutrient availability is a growing threat for lakes and water resources. This can cause excessive phytoplankton production and harmful algal blooms. While the response of phytoplankton to increased nutrient availability is well studied, the formation and collapse of blooms remains elusive and unpredictable. Phytoplankton can get infected by parasites such as viruses and chytrid fungi, but the influence of such parasitic interactions on phytoplankton blooms have been overlooked.

These infections can terminate phytoplankton blooms in a matter of days and influence phytoplankton population size and dynamics. This project will focus on the impacts of such parasitic interactions on freshwater phytoplankton blooms and their role in modulating the fate of phytoplankton biomass in the lake. We will use cultivated model systems, environmental omics, and in-situ microcosms to study these interactions at genome resolution.


This PhD project will include both laboratory experiments and bioinformatics analyses of large datasets. Major part of the project is focused on metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analysis of host-virus interactions, but the research training also includes fieldwork for lake sampling and sample processing as well as experimental manipulations in the laboratory, alternative analytical methods, biostatistical analyses and scientific communication.


Required: Master degree (or equivalent) with specialization in microbiology, microbial ecology, molecular biology, bioinformatics or related areas. A keen interest in microbial ecology and biological interactions. An analytical mindset and professional level English.

Desirable: Personal suitability for the work tasks, such as good collaboration skills, ability to work independently and as a member of a group, and flexibility and problem-solving skills will be considered in the assessment of candidates. It is also desirable that you have;

  • Demonstrated experience of using computer programming languages (UNIX command line and R/Python) for data analysis
  • Experience in isolation and cultivation of different microorganisms
  • Molecular biology skills
  • Experience in scholarly publishing

Place of work:


Forms for funding or employment:

Employment (4 years)



Starting date:

2022-10-15 or according to agreement.


Click the “Apply” button to submit your application. The deadline is 2022-08-31.

The application must include:

  • A cover letter that includes a summary of scientific background and a statement explaining why the candidate is motivated for this specific position and how this research project and PhD experience fit into the applicant’s career plan.
  • A CV summarizing education, research profile, merits, and other qualifying activities.
  • Contact information for two personal references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail, and phone number). No reference letters need to be submitted with the application.
  • Master thesis and list of publications (reports, scientific articles, popular science, etc).

Please note that all documents should be in English. Interviews will be an important part of the appointment process.

To qualify for third-cycle (Doctoral) courses and study programmes, you must have a second-cycle (Master’s) qualification. Alternatively, you must have conducted a minimum of four years of full-time study, of which a minimum of one year at second-cycle level.

Applicants will be selected based on their written application and CV, degree project, copies of their degree certificate and transcript of records from previous first and second-cycle studies at a university or higher education institution, two personal references, and knowledge of English.

Please note that applicants invited to interview must submit attested copies of their degree certificate, a transcript of records from previous first and second-cycle studies at a university or higher education institution. Applicants who are not Swedish citizens need to submit an attested copy of their passport’s information page containing their photograph and personal details.

Academic union representatives:
The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) is a world-class international university with research, education and environmental assessment within the sciences for sustainable life. Its principal sites are in Alnarp, Umeå and Uppsala, but activities are also conducted at research stations, experimental parks and educational establishments throughout Sweden. We bring together people who have different perspectives, but they all have one and the same goal: to create the best conditions for a sustainable, thriving and better world.

SLU has just over 3,000 employees, 5,000 students and a turnover of SEK 3 billion. The university has invested heavily in a modern, attractive environment on its campuses.

Contact person

Maliheh Mehrshad


Apply now

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