The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL is part of the ETH Domain. Approximately 600 people work on the sustainable use and protection of the environment and on the handling of natural hazards.

In the framework of the Project “PhytOakmeter” the Research Unit ‘Biodiversity and Conservation Biology’ and its ‘Ecological Genetics’ Group is searching for the duration of 4 years, with a start in summer/fall 2023 for a PhD student in “Landscape genomics of ectomycorrhizal fungi associated to oak” (f/m/d) “PhytOakmeter” is a project funded by the German Research Foundation and the Swiss National Science Foundation revolving around acclimatization and adaptation of pedunculate oak.

It explores a common oak clone from a holobiont perspective by 24 scientists from Germany and Switzerland. Symbiotic interactions with holobiont partners, including ectomycorrhizal fungi, can support host acclimation to changing conditions, with benefits for longlived trees facing climate change.

However, there are serious gaps in our understanding of the ecological roles of ectomycorrhizal fungi at the level of inter- and intraspecific diversity: how do they mediate root functions and support tree adaptation and acclimation, and are ectomycorrhizal fungi adapted to their local environmental conditions?

Based on sampling sites distributed along a European transect, you will investigate signatures of local adaptation in the highly abundant ectomycorrhizal fungus Cenococcumgeophilum and how natural populations are adapted to dry conditions.

You will study the effects of different C. geophilum genotypes on the symbiotic interactions with oak plants under changing biotic and abiotic environmental conditions using Ecotron, growth chamber and field experiments. Furthermore, you will explore gene expression patterns of selected C. geophilum genotypes to stressful environments using the Ecotron experiment.

By integrating the results obtained and cross-examining them with those of other working groups in the Research Unit, the project aims to provide valuable information on the role of the ectomycorrhizal symbiosis on oak holobiont acclimation as well as the adaptive capacity of ectomycorrhizal fungi.

The successful candidate holds a master’s degree in biology or environmental sciences with a strong background in microbiology, population genetics, soil ecology and/or plant-fungi interactions. You should be keen on combining field observations with controlled experiments to perform integrative data analyses including next-generation sequencing data.

The “PhytOakmeter“ project offers a unique opportunity to join forces with scientists from different backgrounds and to work on the same experimental oak system. Consequently, it is essential that you have strong skills in interacting with scientists in an interdisciplinary team, spread over several institutions.

In addition, we expect experience in bioinformatics, Unix and R programming, a good knowledge of English, and the ambition to communicate results in scientific papers and at conferences. Experience with geographic information system and spatial analyses would be an advantage. Conceptual and creative skills, an independent and structured way of working and a high level of motivation and team spirit complete your profile.

Please send your complete application to Michèle Bucher, Human Resources WSL, by uploading the requested documents through our webpage. Applications via email will not be considered. The position remains open until filled. Benjamin Dauphin,   and Martina Peter,  will be happy to answer any questions or provide further information.

The WSL strives to increase the proportion of women in its employment, which is why qualified women are particularly called upon to apply for this position.

Apply now

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