PhD (m/f/d) in Applied Agroecology/Chemical Ecology  “Effects of global change on the distribution and toxicity of grass endophytes in Germany”

Rationale Endophytes received little attention in agroecological studies. Endophytic fungi of the genus Epichloë occur in many grass species and can protect their host plant by the production of alkaloids. These alkaloids can be toxic for insect pests but also for livestock and enhance the hosts fitness.

Such Epichloë – grass associations occur frequently in native grass species. However, it is unknown, if endophyte infection rates and alkaloid profiles differ between near-natural grasslands and sown pastures. It is also unknown, how frequently Epichloë infected seeds occur on the seed market and if the infected plants produce alkaloids above the toxicity levels for insects and livestock, including horses.


Applicants for the PhD should have a MSc degree (or equivalent) in ecology, biology, agricultural sciences or related disciplines. A strong interest in agroecology, endophytic fungi and chemical ecology is required. Laboratory skills in GC-MS, HPLC-MS or multiplex PCR are beneficial, as well as basic knowledge of field survey campaigns, field experiments and statistics (preferable in R).

English speaking and writing skills are expected. German skills are necessary for the fieldwork and for public relations. A driving license valid in Germany is compulsory, as study sites are distributed throughout Germany.

Your tasks

• Recording and sampling of grass on meadows, fallows and calcareous grasslands throughout Germany

• Sowing experiment of seed mixtures

• Analyses of grass samples with GC-MS, HPLC-MS and multiplex PCR in cooperation with partners

• Communication with horse breeders, farmers, seed companies

• Statistical analyses and scientific writing

Salary and conditions

Salaries for the PhD position will be according to the wages-agreement (TV-L) for part-time 65% for three years, with possible extensions of 6 months. The University of Würzburg is an equal opportunity employer. Female scientists are particularly encouraged to apply. Disabled applicants will be preferentially considered in case of equivalent qualification. The doctoral thesis will be done as a series of English manuscripts.

We offer the membership in a friendly, enthusiastic and ambitious research team with modern facilities and worldwide cooperations. The position will be placed in the student city of Würzburg in southern Germany. The PhD student can join the Graduate School of Life Sciences of the University of Würzburg with many activities. Conferences and project partners in USA or New Zealand can be visited as part of the project.


Please send your application preferable as a single pdf file per-email to  and  latest until 5th December 2023. Interviews of invited candidates will be held in Würzburg or online. Applications should include a cover letter, a short summary of research interests, CV, complete certificates (A-level, BSc, MSc), driver license certificate, information on German and English skills and the names (with email addresses and phone number) of two potential referees.

For further information, please contact

Prof Dr. Jochen Krauss. Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, Biocentre, University of Würzburg, Germany  (Phone: 0931-3182382)  

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