PhD position (f/x/m; E13 TV-L, 65%) at the division of Geo-Biosphere Interactions (University of Tübingen) You’re interested investigating plant symbioses and subsoil management as part of sustainable crop production strategies by applying isotope and molecular methods? Then this PhD position is for you!

In our rapidly changing world, sustainable strategies are needed to ensure a stable food production without (further) compromising the health and functioning of our agroecosystems. This is where arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), the most widespread symbionts among crop plants, hold great promise, as AMF are known to have a wide range of beneficial effects.

The interaction of plants and AMF is well studied in agricultural topsoils (i.e., the thin plow layer in conventionally managed systems), but the potential of AMF in agricultural subsoils (i.e., the mineral soil below the plow layer) is less considered. Subsoil AMF, however, are assumed to differ in traits and functionality from topsoil AMF, and therefore in their ability to support crop growth and production.

Your responsibilities: The project “Functional differentiation of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in top- vs. subsoil: do subsoils harbor nutrient acquisition traits supportive for sustainable agriculture?” (funded by DFG) aims to provide insights into the potential of subsoils as reservoirs for functionally diverse AMF communities and their potential to improve nutrient utilization in agricultural systems.

To answer the questions whether subsoils harbor AMF communities with distinct functional traits and whether these traits can be beneficial for sustainable management, the PhD candidate will perform labeling experiments with 13CO2 15N, and 33P, and bioinformatic data analyses. Further, the PhD candidate will plan and conduct field campaigns, isotope analyses and analyses of soil chemical properties, as well as root analyses and analyses of potential enzymatic activities.

Your profile: We are looking for a highly motivated and cooperative person with a strong background and M.Sc. (or equivalent) in soil biogeochemistry, soil ecology, geoecology, or in a related relevant field. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated their ability to successfully carry out research and communicate the results.

The candidate should have demonstrated their ability to work independently and goal-oriented and should be able to independently organize and undertake field campaigns, greenhouse experiments, and laboratory work. A valid B driver’s license to reach the field site is considered as a plus. Experience in data management, statistics, bioinformatics and R is desired. Very good communication skills and fluency in English are indispensable. For international candidates, the willingness to learn basic German would be beneficial.

What we offer: The division of Geo-Biosphere Interactions at the University of Tübingen invites applications for a 3-year doctoral position, with 1th of November 2023 as earliest starting date. Salary is based on TV-L E13 (65%). We offer a supportive and stimulating research environment with excellent lab facilities and flexible working hours. The PhD student will be enrolled in the doctoral program of the University of Tübingen, offering continuing education and training to improve scientific and soft skills.

In case of equal qualification and experience, physically challenged applicants are given preference. The University of Tübingen aims to increase the share of women in research and teaching and encourages female scientists to apply. The employment will be handled by the central administration of the University of Tübingen.

How to apply: Your application should include a letter of motivation (2 pages), a CV (2 pages), academic transcripts (non-official copies are acceptable) and contact details of two academic references. Please send your application as a single PDF file by email with the subject “PhD position Subsoil-AMF” by August 31, 2023, to For any questions related to the project you may contact Dr. Svenja Stock.
Svenja Stock
Geo-Biosphere Interactions, University of Tübingen

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