The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL is one of the world’s leading research institutions in the field of organic agriculture and employs around 220 people in Switzerland. FiBL’s strengths are interdisciplinary research, joint innovations with farmers and the food industry as well as rapid knowledge transfer. FiBL Switzerland’s expertise is also in demand beyond the country’s borders. It is therefore involved in numerous international projects, research, extension and training, as well as development cooperation.

Starting from 01 February 2023 or by arrangement, the Departments of Soil Sciences and Crop Sciences are looking for a highly qualified and motivated PhD student (m/f/d).

Do you want to help identify new tools for plant breeding?

The 4-year PhD thesis is part of Root2Res: a Horizon Europe project funded by the European Commission and the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI. Root2Res stands for “Root phenotyping and genetic improvement for rotational crops resilient to environmental change”. The Root2Res project started in September 2022 and will last for 5 years.

Crop yields are expected to be negatively impacted by climate change. Therefore, we need to develop new cultivars which are more resistant to biotic and abiotic stress. One of the goals of Root2Res is to develop novel breeding tools for root and rhizosphere traits. Special focus of FiBL will be on plant-root associated microbiome community of several crops and its impact on resilience towards abiotic and biotic stress. We will also quantify the plasticity of mycorrhiza species under a range of environmental conditions.

This is a collaboration between the nutrient management and symbiosis group in the Soil Sciences Department and the plant breeding group in the Crop Sciences Department.

Our expectations

  • Sample preparation and analysis of metabarcoding data to characterize microbial communities associated with different crop species
  • Conducting field and pot experiments with pea in collaboration with breeding companies
  • Characterization of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities through microscopy, qPCR and metabarcoding
  • Identify microbial and plant genetic markers that regulate microbiome-mediated disease resistance
  • Develop strategies and tools to exploit plant-microbiome interactions in holobiont based breeding programmes
  • Authoring scientific publications
  • Presentation of results at national and international conferences

Your profile

  • MSc in the field of microbiology, ecology, breeding or agronomy with a strong interest in molecular biology and genetic analysis
  • Experience in molecular biology and laboratory work
  • Good knowledge in statistics, especially in R programming
  • Interest in organic and sustainable farming systems
  • Innovative, team-oriented, independent, flexible with great communication skills
  • Motivated to combine molecular approaches, microbiome and plant quantitative genetics with breeding allowing you to work in the field, in the lab and on your computer
  • Good written and spoken English is essential

What we offer

FiBL offers an inspiring and dynamic work environment with career development opportunities. As a research institute with a great global network, we consider training opportunities and further education for our employees highly important. FiBL offers a campus atmosphere fostering inter- and transdisciplinary exchange on a daily basis as well as close collaboration with European partners. Employees also enjoy excellent organic food at our in-house restaurant and a workplace surrounded by a lush and green landscape.

Does this position interest you? Dr. Natacha Bodenhausen, senior scientist, Email: will be happy to answer any further questions. We would be pleased to receive your application documents (single PDF consisting of an application letter, your CV, copy of degrees, contact details of two references) by 4 December 2022 via

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