Thüringen, Germany
Date Posted
28 May 2024

PhD Project
Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Phenotypic heterogeneity and population dynamics in biofilms

Thüringen, Germany
28 May 2024

NOTE: this position listing has expired and may no longer be relevant!

Position Description

PhD position in Microbiology
Registriernummer: 95 / 2015
A three-year PhD position in Microbiology: Phenotypic heterogeneity and population dynamics in biofilms
within the framework of the Priority Programme SPP 1617 – Phenotypic heterogeneity and sociomicrobiology of bacterial populations is available at the Institute of Microbiology, Friedrich Schiller University (FSU) Jena, starting in September 2015.
Project: Biofilms are environmentally relevant lifestyles of microorganisms, where cells grow together, differentiate, and produce a matrix. This matrix also protects them from environmental insults, such as antimicrobials and several other stress conditions. Biofilms possess high complexity that is changing in time and space. The secreted biofilm matrix is regarded a public good that can be exploited by non-producers. The objective of the project is to understand how phenotypic heterogeneity influences population dynamics in Bacillus subtilis biofilms and to investigate the feedback mechanisms that act on public good producers in the presence of non-producers. Finally, the evolutionary adaptation will be scrutinized that occurs in the producer population in the presence of free-riders and during mutualism.
Research environment: The FSU Jena is one of the oldest German universities and has a long tradition both in humanities and natural sciences. At present, it is the largest full scope university in the state of Thuringia and is complemented by a multitude of external research institutes to provide an active and stimulating research environment. The successful candidate will be a member of the Terrestrial Biofilms Junior Research Group, headed by Dr. Ákos T. Kovács, at the Institute of Microbiology in Jena. The candidate will be eventually affiliated with JSMC (Jena School for Microbial Communication), the German Excellence Initiative that provide a structured, interdisciplinary training program based on top-level fundamental research.
Training Network: The Priority Programme SPP 1617 ( aims at the characterisation of the molecular mechanisms of bacterial phenotypic heterogeneity, the elucidation of its biological significance, and answering the question how evolution gave rise to genotypes that express diverse phenotypes. The candidate will have the opportunity to participate in the training activities of the network and to undertake collaborative visits to partner institutions.
Qualifications: The applicant should optimally have a solid background in microbial population biology and practical experience in molecular microbiology. Expertise in molecular cloning and fluorescence microscopy is advantageous, fluency in English is expected. Candidates should hold a master degree (or equivalent) in Microbiology, Evolutionary Biology or related areas.
Conditions: The PhD position will be paid in accordance to the German Public Services Regulations TV-L up to E 13 (50 to 65%). The position starts latest on the 1st of October 2015. The Friedrich Schiller University Jena seeks to increase the number of female scientists and therefore strongly encourages qualified women to apply. Severely disabled applicants with equal qualification and skills are given preferential consideration.

How to Apply

Applications should include a CV, a short letter of motivation including statement how your background will benefit the project and other projects in the Terrestrial Biofilms group (, a 1-2 pages summary of the MSc thesis, and any other scientific manuscript authored by the candidate. Application (in PDF format) should be sent electronically until 15 July 2015 to Dr. Ákos T. Kovács, Email: akos-tibor.kovacs(AT) July

Position Category: Medical & Biological Sciences. Position Type: PhD Project.