PhD Student Symbiont Host-breadth and Host-shift in A Natural Insect Community

University of Helsinki, Finland is inviting excellent candidates to apply for a PhD position in environmental sciences. The initial contract for this position is 5 years. Eligible candidates should submit the applications before August 20, 2019.

The University of Helsinki is among the leading multidisciplinary research universities in the world. In addition to its 11 faculties, the University includes several independent institutes, some of which are jointly operated with other universities. The University of Helsinki has an international academic community of 40,000 students and staff members, and it offers comprehensive services to its employees, including occupational health care and health insurance, sports facilities, and opportunities for professional development.

The Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences ( is Finland's most high profile and extensive hub of research and teaching in the field. The Faculty is comprised of three research programmes - Ecosystems and Environment, Molecular and Integrative Biosciences, and Organismal and Evolutionary Biology - the latter with focus areas on Ecology and Evolution of natural populations, population genetics and dynamics, and Climate Change.

The Laboratory of Dr. Anne DUPLOUY ( is part of the Organismal and Evolutionary Biology programme, and studies host-symbiont interactions and insect communities to investigate diverse evolutionary and ecological processes. We now invite applications for a fixed term position (up to 4 years) as a

funded by the Academy of Finland. Highly motivated students showing independent thinking, and ability to learn and implement new skills from different research fields are highly encouraged to apply.

Remove all symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi, chloroplasts or gut-microbes and we loose all 25,000 species of orchids, most of plants or our ability to digest food. Symbionts are microorganisms that live in intimate association with almost all Eukaryotes. Their ubiquitousness is mainly explained by various means that symbionts have evolved to promote their own fitness, to spread or survive in their host population, and to ensure their transmission through generations (i.e. vertical transmission). The symbiont-induced phenotypes include manipulating the hosts' reproductive system and other life-history traits, such as host fecundity, dispersal abilities or response to pathogen and environmental extremes. Depending on the study system, the phenotypes are beneficial or costly to the host. Although many studies suggest that around 60% of all insect species are infected by heritable symbionts, those microorganisms have rarely been considered within the complexity of insect communities. Consequently, we lack a full understanding of how natural communities work, and how symbionts may play a key role in the shaping of those communities.

In this project, the PhD candidate will enquire about the dynamics of two symbionts (Wolbachia and Microsporidia) in a natural insect community. The candidate will investigate the favored routes of transfer of the symbionts (between and within species), and what are the main biotic and abiotic factors affecting symbiotic transfer. The study system will be the well-characterized insect community associated with the ribwort plantain, in the land islands (between the coasts of Finland and Sweden). The candidate will be asked to perform fieldwork, and various experiments using ecological approaches in the field and in the laboratory, as well as using various tools in the molecular laboratory. The system includes many species whose ecology has been studied for over 15 years, e.g. the host plant (Plantago lanceolata), the Glanville fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia), several associated parasitoid wasps (Hyposoter horticola, Cotesia melitearum), and others. The project is highly collaborative and should allow the candidate to build an international research network. All findings will be published in Open Access international journals, and the candidate is expected to present in scientific meetings.

The successful candidate will be employed on a full-time, fixed term four-year contract starting September 2019 or by agreement, however no later than January 2020. For more information on degree requirements and the application process, please visit

The salary is based on levels 2-3 of the job requirement scheme for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of Finnish universities. The starting salary of the doctoral student will be ca. 2200-2300 euros/month, depending on the appointees' qualifications and experience. Furthermore, the University of Helsinki offers comprehensive services to its employees, including occupational health care and health insurance, sports facilities, and opportunities for professional development. The International Staff Services office assists employees from abroad with their transition to work and life in Finland ( A six-month trial period will be applied.

– A cover letter (max. one A4 page) potentially including: i) a brief description of previous research experience and, ii) outline of research skills iii) how these skills support the project focus areas. – A CV incl. possible list of publications, as well as full contact information for at least two references. – A copy of M.Sc. diploma (or equivalent) and a transcript of completed credits. Please compile all documents into a single PDF file in the above-specified order.

Please submit your application using the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the link Apply for job. Applicants who are employees of the University of Helsinki are requested to leave their application via the SAP HR portal. For more information on the advertised positions, please contact PI, Academy of Finland Research Fellow Anne DUPLOUY (anne.duplouy(at)

The application deadline is 20 August 2019. The planned start date of the position is 1 September 2019 or by agreement, however no later than 1 January 2020. More about working at the University of Helsinki…

Deadline: August 20, 2019
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