Job:PhD position available on Microbiome Ecology and Evolution. Madrid, Spain
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3.8 years ago
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PhD position available on Microbiome Ecology and Evolution.

The group of Dr. Jaime Iranzo studying "Evolutionary dynamics of genomes, viruses, and microbial populations" at the Centre for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics (CBGP, Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Spain) offers a PhD position under La Caixa Foundation's INPhINIT Programme to study the evolution of ecological interactions, metabolic interdependencies, and virus-microbe predation networks within human and environmental microbiomes.


4 February 2020 ("Incoming" fellowship, for candidates that have not resided in Spain for more than 12 months in the last 3 years).

26 February 2020 ("Retaining" fellowship, for candidates that have resided in Spain for more than 12 months in the last 3 years).

TITLE: Interplay of evolutionary and ecological processes in the microbiome


Evolution of bacteria and archaea critically depends on the exchange of genes through multiple mechanisms collectively known as horizontal gene transfer (HGT). HGT occurs at time scales that overlap with those of ecological processes, generating diversity in microbial populations and providing ready-made tools that facilitate fast adaptation to environmental challenges. As a result, the sharing of genetic information through HGT underlies much of the adaptability and evolutionary plasticity of prokaryotes, affecting their population and community structure. A second driving force of microbial evolution is the arms race between viruses and hosts, which not only results from but also modifies predator-prey ecological interactions within the microbiome. While the importance of HGT and virus-host arms races in microbial evolution is widely recognized, their combined effects on the dynamics of complex microbiomes is less well known.

To fill these gaps, we are applying methods from comparative genomics, flux balance analysis, and mathematical modeling to large metagenomic datasets in order to investigate how HGT and virus-host predation networks shape the microbiome over time and determine the structure and stability of microbial communities. This bottom-up approach will add an evolutionary perspective to our understanding of microbiomes, leading to more accurate predictive models for the management of microbial communities.


We are seeking a highly motivated candidate with strong quantitative and computational skills and a background in bioinformatics, computer science, or biology. The PhD student will join a multidisciplinary team of young scientists that study fundamental aspects of microbial ecology and evolution using empirical data, computational tools, and mathematical models.

The PhD student will contribute to the research of the group by investigating how evolutionary processes, such as gene gain and loss, strain replacement, and virus-host coevolution, affect ecological interactions within the microbiome. Depending on the candidate's background and personal interests, the project can be oriented towards (a) the development and application of advanced comparative genomic methods to infer metabolic interdependencies within microbial communities, virus-host infection networks, and their variation over time based on deep-sequencing metagenomic data; (b) the development of integrative mathematical models to predict the response of a microbiome, in terms of composition and stability, to the evolutionary processes listed above; or (c) a combination of both.


The doctoral fellowship INPhINIT "La Caixa" is devoted to attracting talented early-stage researchers of any nationality who wish to pursue doctoral studies in top-level research institutions in Spain and Portugal. Benefits of the Program include a highly competitive salary, funding for short-term research internships and participation in workshops and conferences, complementary training on transferable skills (e.g. entrepreneurship, management and networking), career counseling, and high-quality academic and industrial secondments to enhance the fellows' future career opportunities in both academia and industry.


For further information about the research project, the position, and the application process, please contact Jaime Iranzo, email:

Applications should be submitted through La Caixa INPhINIT online application system:

The INPhINIT Fellowship is a very competitive call. To maximize the chances of success, we highly encourage contacting us at the provided email address prior to submitting the online application.

More information about the research group:

PhD evolution genomics doctoral-degree • 1.7k views

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