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Postdoctoral Fellowship on the "Suppression of antagonistic fungi in fungus-growing termites" at the Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen

A two-year postdoctoral research fellowship is available from 1 September 2017 or as soon as possible thereafter at the Section for Ecology and Evolution, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The fellowship will be part of an interdisciplinary 5-year research project entitled: "How termite farmers keep fungus crops disease-free” funded by the Villum Kann Rasmussen foundation and led by Assoc. Prof. Michael Thomas-Poulsen. The project will be carried out in collaboration with Assistant Professor Christine Beemelmanns (Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology, Jena, Germany).

Project area
A fungus-farming termite colony consists of full siblings and each colony rears a single clone of a fungus that colony members rely on as their main food source. Such conditions of high relatedness are generally recognized to increase vulnerability to infections, but the termite-fungus mutualism has an astounding ability to remain free from endemic and epidemic diseases. The association is highly successful and sustainable: it evolved ca. 30MYA and has radiated into more than 330 extant termite species that often dominate terrestrial ecosystems in Africa and Southeast Asia. A possible adaptive explanation for why termite nests are free of diseases is that they have not been exhaustively explored or that defence mechanisms in the termites and their symbionts preclude that any antagonists can infiltrate and have an impact on termite colonies. The fellow will investigate the presence of putative antagonists in the termite environment, e.g., in the plant substrate the termites collect to manure their fungal cultivar, using culture-dependent and -independent approaches (e.g., MiSeq amplicon sequencing). In addition, the fellow will establish and run microbiological inhibition assays to test if antimicrobial defences in the termite symbiosis suppress alien fungi obtained in culture.

The supervisor will be Associate Professor Michael Thomas-Poulsen, Section for Ecology and Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen.

a) PhD in biology, e.g., in microbiology or microbial ecology.
b) Experience with microbiological techniques.
c) Experience with sequencing, including -omics.
d) An understanding of and interest in symbiotic interactions.
e) To be able to perform team-oriented as well as independent work.
f) Should embrace working in an international research team and conduct inter-disciplinary research.
g) A proven record of excellent English speaking, reading and writing skills.

Procedures and shortlisting
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Appointments Committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether an expert committee will assess their application. Selected applicants are notified of the composition of the committee and each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself. The Head of Department, based on the recommendations of the assessment committee, will make the final selection of the successful candidate.

Place of employment and principal place of work
University of Copenhagen, Department of Biology, Section for Ecology and Evolution, Universitetsparken 15, Building 3, DK-2100 Copenhagen East.

Terms of employment
The successful candidate will be offered a full-time position for a period of two years, contingent on a satisfactory performance, with the specific intent that it results in production of scientific publications.

Terms of employment and payment are in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC). For post docs the salary is based on seniority and is currently between DKK 32.350 and DKK 34.060 plus pension contribution a month and the possibility to negotiate further supplement.

Further information can be obtained from Assoc. Prof. Michael Thomas-Poulsen (e-mail: For information on the research group, see: and the Department of Biology, see

How to apply
Applications must include (i) a motivated text wherein the reasons for applying, qualifications in relation to the position, and intentions and visions for the position are stated (max 1 A4 page), (ii) curriculum vitae (maximum 2 pages), (iii) list of publications, (iv) copies of relevant diplomas (Master of Science and PhD) (v) dissemination qualifications, including participation on committees or boards, participation in organisations, and (vi) the names, e-mails, telephone numbers and addresses of 2 referees.

In addition to the fulfilment of the above-mentioned qualifications, the main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant, the match with the project, and good interpersonal skills.

Applications should be sent electronically by using the link below.

Apply online

Deadline for application is 15 May 2017. Applications received after the deadline, not using the online application form, or not including the required documents will not be considered.

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Michael Thomas-Poulsen


Ansøgningsfrist: 15-05-2017
Ansættelsesform: Tidsbegrænset periode
Ansættelsesdato: 01-09-2017
Afdeling/Sted: Biologisk Institut

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