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Wednesday 18 December 2019
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2 year research position (renewable) on soil microbes and symbioses in arid soils at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris (France)


The Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN; National Museum of Natural History, Paris) offers a 2 year funded post-doc position (renewable once) to work on soil microbes and symbioses in arid soils from the Al Ula oasis (Saudi Arabia). The project is a collaboration with the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN; National Museum of Natural History, Paris), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD, Montpellier) and an innovative company (Valorhiz, Montpellier). Application deadline the 10th January 2020.

Sofunland Al Ula is a 4-year project (2020-2023) designed to analyse the soil microbial diversity of an oasis in Saudi Arabia, the Al Ula oasis. This site is currently the focus of multidisciplinary research, ranging from agriculture and water management to archaeology, designed to (i) develop its touristic potential, and (ii) restore a sustainable ecosystem. In this framework, the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN; National Museum of Natural History, Paris), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD, Montpellier) and an innovative company (Valorhiz, Montpellier) are jointly concentrating on several soil-related issues in the Sofunland programme.

Research objectives of the position

Within an ambitious project, the applicant will be in charge of two tasks: (T1) his/her own analyses (see below), and (T2) helping the Paris MNHN local coordinator, M.-A. Selosse, supervise the project for the MNHN. During the recruitment process, the applicant will establish with the local coordinator his/her commitment to the research (T1) and expected output in terms of contribution to scientific papers. Based on this, the profile of his/her assistant (to be recruited, researcher or post-doc) will be defined.

Task T1 is a contribution to research by molecular barcoding of soil and root microbes (bacteria and fungi), regarding several questions addressed in the Sofunland project. The applicant will also be involved in research on mycorrhizal fungi and mycorrhizal networks by the Paris team of which he/she will be a part.

Task T2 includes supervision, together with other teams involved in the project, of field sampling (2 missions of 2-3 weeks during the project), and administrative and technical supervision of post-docs and PhD students associated with the project at MNHN. The candidate will be involved in the scientific supervision together with the local coordinator (M.-A. Selosse).

Research environment

The work will be carried out by M.-A. Selosse’s team at the MNHN (Paris, in UMR 7205, Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité). This team is internationally renowned and is, for example, co- organising the joint 10th International Symbiosis Society Congress in Lyon (July 2021). This research environment offers opportunities for discussions and contributions to many other ongoing projects and papers, based on the skills and willingness of the applicant. The research (T1) will also benefit from the work done on fungal and mycorrhizal ecology by M.-A. Selosse’s other research teams at the Universities of Gdansk (Poland: bioinformatics, transcriptomics, metabolomics) and Kunming (China: orchid conservation).

Required profile and skills

The applicant should have a PhD in the field of soil or microbial sciences sensu lato or have significant experience in monitoring research projects and/or lab work. The core requirements are (i) knowledge of molecular biology, with an interest in ecological applications and/or molecular barcoding, and (ii) skills in or willingness to learn about project management and running a research team. Importantly, the work will include organization of team field and sampling trips, albeit for a limited part of the time, within collective missions with other Sofunland teams in the Al Ula oasis. Eligibility for a Saudi Arabian visa and a good level of spoken and written English are thus necessary. Ability to work in groups and to network with different colleagues is required.


This 2-year (full-time) position will ideally start in February 2020. There is the possibility of a 2-year extension within the same project and under the same conditions.

Salary and other conditions

Gross salary 52 000 euros (before taxes and social/healthcare payments, since health insurance and social advantages are included), i.e. net salary of 2 400 euros per month.

How to apply

Prepare a one-page cover letter explaining your interest, with the names and email addresses of two people with first-hand knowledge of your past research experience. Add a curriculum vitae including a publication list (2 pages max.). Send your completed application in a single PDF file to
M.A. Selosse ma.selosse at wanadoo.fr.
The call for applications is open until the position is filled. For full consideration, apply by January 10th, 2020. After pre-selection, an interview may be organized, if necessary over the Internet.

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  • BRANDNER Melissa
    • University of Nordland
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    • National Centre for Biosystematics
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    • University of Victoria
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  • KASAPIDIS Panagiotis
    • Hellenic Center for Marine Research
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    • Centre for GeoGenetics
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  • ZINGER Lucie
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