PhD Scholarship in Genomics of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi

Uppsala University has an opening PhD position in bioinformatics. The funds for this position are available for four years. Applications are welcome before September 17, 2019.

Project description: The majority of all terrestrial plants form mutualistic symbiosis with fungi in the phylum Glomeromycota. The symbiosis goes by the name of arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) and these obligate symbionts complete their life cycles as mycelia underground where they colonize roots from different plants, provide nutrients for plants in exchange for energy and reproduce with asexual spores. The mycelium is coenocytic and its many nuclei seem to move freely within the organism. A single spore can contain 200 – 20,000 nuclei, depending on the species of study. Based on DNA sequencing from soil samples, we estimate that there are thousands of species of AM fungi but only a fraction of these can be grown under experimental conditions. Due to their complicated biology, only a few genomes are published. In our group, we have developed a new genome sequencing method where we use single-cell genomics to circumvent these difficulties allowing us to generate genome sequence data from a single spore. This opens up completely new opportunities to study the function and diversity of AM fungi that have played such central role on earth since plants began to colonize land.

In the project you will generate genome sequence data from hitherto unknown species of AM fungi thereby contributing to a broader knowledge of the elusive Glomeromycota. Together, we will develop sampling and analysis methods to study what characterizes species that have not been previously cultivated. For example, we expect higher genetic within-organism variation in “wild” compared to “domestic” AM fungi. Individual species that have been cultivated in experimental systems over many generations can be studied by comparative genomics to identify genomic signatures of domestication. In the project, we will collaborate with SciLife Lab to continue to develop modern sequencing and visualization methods to characterize the environment’s diversity of organisms with complex life cycles.

Qualifications required: To be eligible for a PhD-student position the applicant must hold a master degree (or equivalent) in Biology with specialization in ecology or genetics. The position requires documented interest in the ecology and biology of symbiotic organisms and experience in bioinformatic analyzes. Candidates must be able to express themselves fill in to what degree in spoken as well as written English. Qualifications desired: Practical experience working with genome sequence data is highly merited.

Position: Temporary position according to the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5 7. The graduate program covers four years of full-time study. The position can be combined with teaching or other duties at the department (maximum 20%), which prolongs the employment with the corresponding time. The salary will be set according to local agreements. Rules governing PhD candidates are set out in the Higher Education Ordinance Chapter 5, 1-7 and in Uppsala university’s rules and guidelines More information about postgraduate studies at Uppsala University is available at

Deadline: September 17, 2019
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