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Research technician vacancy

UNITO has opened a temporary position (1 year) for a full time research technician working on Excalibur (WP1, WP2, WP3, on tomato and strawberry).

The call is available at the following link:

The format to be used to participate to the call is available at the following link:

Application deadline: 11/10/2019

For more informations:

UK PhD studentship program

This project will investigate how underground soil biodiversity is affected by novel horticultural practices. The studentship starts in October 2020 and is funded by NERC.

Read the eligibility criteria and application guidance below, then send your application to

Application deadline: 6 January 2020

Project background

Human impacts on the natural environment are now so great that we are eroding our own economies and food security.

Studies of how land-use change affects the biota nearly all consider only above-ground biodiversity, and most focus on taxa not strongly linked to key ecosystem services. Not enough is known about impacts on underground soil biodiversity, carbon and nutrient cycling.

The soil microbiome (bacteria, fungi and other protists) and small invertebrates are a major component of soils, are essential for maintaining key terrestrial ecosystems, and interact with the roots of plants in ways that affect plant growth, health, and resistance to pathogens.

Project Aims and Methods

Recent studies on horticultural crops such as tomato, strawberries and apples have shown that adding certain bacteria and fungi to crops can make it easier for plants to use the surrounding biodiversity by stimulating soil microbiota and endophytes (prebiotics), and to improve plant nutrition or protection against pathogens (probiotics), and subsequently may allow a reduction of the use of fertilisers and pesticides.

However, little is still known about the effect of novel horticultural practices on underground soil biodiversity and how to predict the response to crop types under conventional and organic management.

Statistical modelling to date mainly uses species data obtained by morphological identification but the integration of DNA-based taxa data from high throughput sequencing would also allow to consider bacteria and microbial eukaryote taxa data in addition to soil invertebrates in policy-relevant models.

The overall aims of the project are

  • to assess and compare the biodiversity of microbiome and invertebrate communities from horticultural soils and crops using environmental DNA sequencing and metabarcoding and the range of biodiversity measures that these make available
  • to integrate DNA sequencing data into policy-relevant models of how soil community composition will respond to novel horticultural approaches and management practices
  • to evaluate if biotic responses are consistent among major taxa, guilds and habitats; and 4) refine existing models of how soil communities respond to agricultural management
  • The PhD student will be able to develop their own specific questions to address as part of the studentship, and have the opportunity to gain expertise in analyzing soil microbial and invertebrate assemblages through a combination of environmental DNA and high-throughput sequencing, bioinformatics, statistical, meta-analytical analysis techniques. The studentship will be part of the H2020-funded Excalibur project that aims to evaluate the multifunctional potential of belowground biodiversity in horticultural farming. The newly-generated data will be supplemented with data from published papers, which will augment the PREDICTS database.


To be eligible for a full award a student must have:

  • British Citizenship or;
  • Settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay,
  • Been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship – (For non-EU citizens, this must NOT have been in full time education.)
    This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences). This does not apply to UK nationals.

How to apply

Applications for the PhD are processed through the Natural History Museum.

To apply, please send the following documents to the Postgraduate Office:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Covering letter outlining your interest in the PhD position, relevant skills training, experience and qualifications for the research, and a statement of how this PhD project fits your career development plans
  • Names of two academic referees

The deadline for applications is 6 January 2020.

Vacancy for Postdoctoral Researcher

Salary:   £38,037 per annum

Location: South Kensington

About us

The Natural History Museum (NHM) is a world-class visitor attraction and leading science research centre and commercial event space.

There are 350 scientific staff working across Life Sciences and Earth Sciences Departments with molecular laboratories, sequencing facilities and imaging centre in the Core Research Facilities. We use our unique collections with 80 million specimens, laboratory facilities and unrivalled expertise to tackle the biggest challenges facing the world today including food security, biodiversity, evolution and climate change.

We are at a pivotal moment in our history, as we will soon launch a new strategy setting out our role as the natural world faces increasing threats.  Building on our world-leading collection, global reputation for science and as one of the world’s leading visitor attractions, the NHM has ambitious plans leading up to its 150th anniversary in 2031 making this a truly exciting time to be part of the NHM team.

About the role

This position is available in the field of soil microbiology, plant diseases and the application of bio-inoculants in horticulture within the H2020-funded EXCALIBUR project in Dr Jungblut’s and Dr David Bass’s research teams at the Life Sciences Department, Natural History Museum, London.

The project aims to gain a better knowledge of underground soil biodiversity including prokaryotes, microbial eukaryotes, and microfungi, and their synergistic effects with prebiotic and probiotic approaches in horticulture. Soil microbial bio-inoculants and bio-effectors will be tested on three model crops of economic importance such as tomato, apple, and strawberry under different experimental and open-field conditions across Europe, and the feedback effect of and on native soil biodiversity will be monitored.

The work will provide an excellent opportunity for a post-doctoral research scientist to apply cutting-edge microbial community analysis techniques to investigate the relationship between soil microbial communities, plant diseases, microbial inoculants, environmental drivers and biogeography in horticulture.

The postdoctoral research scientist will take a leading role in the assessment of soil microbiology, microbe-plant interactions and plant diseases across study sites, as well as in the monitoring of the response of soil microbial assemblages, plant endophytes and rhizosphere in tomato, strawberries and apples on microbial inoculants during the field trials and contrasting agricultural management practices.

About you

The successful candidate will have Bachelor or Masters Degree in sciences, PhD in relevant discipline and knowledge of fundamental microbiological and molecular biological techniques.

You will also have experience in working with environmental samples including DNA extraction and PCR, and with bioinformatic tools for microbial community structure analysis.

Contract: Fixed Term Contract – 26 months

Closing date: 09:00 on 3 February 2020

Interviews will be held on:   w/c 17 February 2020

What we offer

  • 5 days holiday plus 8 bank holidays
  • Generous defined contribution Natural History Museum Pension Scheme (employer contribution up to 10%)
  • Free admission to our exhibitions and many other paid exhibitions at museums, galleries and institutions across the country, such as the British Museum, V&A, National Gallery, Royal Academy and Tate
  • Affordable membership to the Civil Service Sports Council which offers a range of benefits including a free digital Tastecard, discounted cinema tickets and corporate membership of English Heritage sites (including Dover Castle and Stonehenge). For more details, visit
  • Membership to our Sports and Social Association (for a small fee), which includes access to our in-house gym and clubs such as football, softball, table tennis and tennis and classes in Middle Eastern dance, yoga and Tai Chi
  • Staff discounts at a range of local businesses and services
  • Up to 50% staff discount at our shops and cafes
  • Season ticket, bicycle and rental loans
  • Eye care vouchers
  • Professional development opportunities – We are committed to the professional development of our staff and offer a range of courses to ensure they reach their potential. We also sponsor professional qualifications and job-related professional membership fees.


How to apply

If that sounds like you please apply online on the Natural History Museum’s careers portal, and provide:

  • A comprehensive curriculum vitae giving details of relevant achievements in recent posts as well as your education and professional qualifications.
  • A covering letter that summarises your interest in this post, providing evidence of your ability to match the criteria outlined in the person specification
  • Please ensure your letter includes details of your latest salary and notice period.

Diversity and Inclusion at the Museum

We welcome applications from everyone – diversity, inclusion and the feeling of belonging matters to us.  By attracting people to work for us from a broad range of diverse backgrounds we can continue to look at the world with fresh eyes and find new ways of doing things.  We offer a stimulating and professional environment in which to work. This is a remarkable place and we look for staff who can work according to our values – we champion diversity, encourage creativity, we are connected, and we value evidence.

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