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Wednesday 18 December 2019
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18-month PostDoc on Microbial ecology and barcoding in Arid Soils at the Museum & CIRAD, Montpellier (FRANCE)


The Laboratoire des Symbioses Tropicales et Méditerranéennes (LSTM, Montpellier) offers a 18-month funded post-doc position to work on the microbial diversity of soils 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 a 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, multi-partner project, the post-doc will be in charge of the molecular barcoding of several tasks of the project, including an atlas of the microbial diversity (bacteria and fungi) of the core-area of the oasis and investigations of the specific microbial fingerprints of archaeological sites (sampling already started in 2019). The post-doc will also be involved in researches on mycorrhizal fungi and mycorrhizal networks of the oasis, an issue overlooked in arid soils. He will be involved in field sampling (2 missions of 2-3 weeks over the duration of the post-doc), and can be involved in supervisions of master and PhD students. The post-doc will receive supports (or training if wished) for bioinformatics tasks linked to barcoding.

Research environment

The research will be carried out at the Laboratoire des Symbioses Tropicales et Méditerranéennes (LSTM, Montpellier, https://umr-lstm.cirad.fr/l-unite) in Montpellier, with few short travels to Paris and in Saudi Arabia. This lab, a joint Research Unit between CIRAD, IRD, SupAgro, Montpellier University and INRA, has acquired a strong identity in the field of plant-microbe interactions. The research developed at LSTM extends from the characterization and analysis of the biodiversity of symbiotic microorganisms to the understanding of the molecular interactions involved in plant/bacteria and plant/fungi interactions. The position is linked to the teams of M.-A. Selosse at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (Paris, UMR 7205) and in the University of Gdansk (Poland), working on fungal diversity and mycorrhizal ecology in various ecosystems. The Paris team, e.g. organising the joint Xth Congress of the International Symbiosis Society and IIIrd Holobiont Congress in Lyon (July 2021), will provide a framework for discussions and opportunities for contributions to other projects and papers, based on the skills of the applicant.

Required profile and skills

The applicant should have a PhD in the field of soil sciences / microbial ecology / soil DNA and/or NGS tools (bioinformatics not necessary). The core competence required is molecular biology and barcoding. The applicant should be interested in field sampling and optimizing sampling designs (even if this will occupy a limited part of his/her time), in the context of collective missions in the targeted Saudi Arabia oasis (eligibility for a Saudi Arabian visa required). A good level of spoken and written English is necessary, knowledge of Arabian welcome but not compulsory. Ability to work in groups, interact with distant parts of the team, and network expertise of different colleagues will be much appreciated.


This 18-month (full-time) position will ideally start in February 2020, with possibility of an extension within the same project for the next 18 months.

Salary and other conditions

Gross salary 48 000 euros (before taxes and social/healthcare payments, since health insurance and social advantages are included) i.e. net salary of 2 200 euros per month.

How to apply

Prepare a one-page cover letter explaining your interest in the position and how it makes sense at this stage of your career. Give the names and email addresses of two peoples with first-hand knowledge of your skills and past research experience. Add a curriculum vitae including a publication list (2 pages maximum in all). Send your completed application in a single pdf file to:
M.-A. Selosse ma.selosse at wanadoo.fr
M. Ducousso marc.ducousso at cirad.fr
and H. Boukcim hassan.boukcim at valorhiz.com.
The call for applications is open until the position is filled.
For full consideration, apply by January 10th, 2020. After pre-selection, an interview will be organized, if necessary by Internet.

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  • BRANDNER Melissa
    • University of Nordland
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    • National Centre for Biosystematics
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  • CHARITON Anthony
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  • DEAGLE Bruce
    • University of Victoria
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  • Eric Coissac
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  • KASAPIDIS Panagiotis
    • Hellenic Center for Marine Research
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    • LECA,
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    • Centre for GeoGenetics
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  • ZINGER Lucie
    • IBENS
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