PhD position in microbial ecology of plant-ant-microbe associations

A PhD position is available for a highly motivated student with interest in microbial ecology and species interactions within the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) project “Species interactions and their impact on nutrient recycling in ant-made fungal patches” in the laboratories of Dagmar Woebken and Veronica Mayer.

The successful candidate will be part of a team focusing on species interaction networks in tropical ant-plant symbioses. The model system comprises Azteca-ants living in stems of Cecropiatrees, where the ants construct small patches consisting of ant-deposited organic material, bacteria, archaea, fungi and nematodes. Such patches are ubiquitous in symbiotic tropical ant-plant systems and are thought to have important functions in macronutrient recycling, nutrient provision for the ant colony and consequently contributing to the stability of the ant-plant system.In this PhD project, the microbial community composition in the patches as well as their functions (particularly the impact on macronutrient breakdown)will be investigated employing metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approaches.For background information on the study system, please see e.g. Nepel et al.2016, Fungal Ecology ( or Mayer et al.2018, PlosOne (

Required qualifications: We are looking for a highly motivated PhD student, who has a thorough understanding of microbial ecology and a strong interest in species interaction topics. Applicants should hold an MSc degree in microbiology, molecular biology or a related biological discipline and should have a practical background in molecular techniques. Experience in microbial community analyses e.g. via 16S rRNA genes or the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region is desired; experience in genome analysis will be highly favored. Additional bioinformatics skills such as working knowledge of R and scripting languages,as well as a solid knowledge of statistical data analysis would be of additional advantage, but are not mandatory. 

Proficiency in spoken and written English is mandatory. The ability to communicate and work in a team is essential. 

Appointment: We offer a 3-year position as a PhD student at the University of Vienna, Austria. The salary is according to the scheme of theAustrian Science Fund (FWF). The successful candidate will work jointly between the Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research and the Division of Microbial Ecology (DOME) (both housed at the University of Vienna) in the groups of Veronika Mayer und Dagmar Woebken, respectively. He/she will work in an active, inspiring and interdisciplinary environment. The University of Vienna is an equal opportunity employer. Women are strongly encouraged to apply.

Application: Your application should consist of a letter of motivation (1-2 pages), your CV including a publication list (if applicable) and the names and e-mail addresses of three academic references. The letter of motivation should address the stated qualifications for the position, research interests, and relevant experience. Please send your application electronically to with the subject: PhD plant-ant-microbe

Screening of applications will begin 1st May 2019 and continue until the position is filled. The position is available immediately.