Doctoral position (m/f/d) | Primate microbiomes

Young Researchers Leipzig
Developmental and Evolutionary Biology & Genetics Behavioral Sciences Cognitive Research
Job Offer from June 27, 2024

The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig, Germany, is a world-leading research institute investigating one of the most fundamental questions in science: What makes humans human? The institute brings together scientists from a wide range of disciplines who take an interdisciplinary approach to gain new insights into the history, diversity and capabilities of the human species.

Animals are exposed to thousands of different bacterial species on a daily basis, yet form stable associations with only a small subset of them. These partnerships have persisted over evolutionary timescales and shape the development, immunity, and lifetime fitness of their hosts. In the Social Microbiome Group (part of the Department of Primate Behavior and Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology), we study the gut microbiomes of non-human primates in order to understand the processes governing microbiome transmission, assembly, stability, and evolution in wild populations.

We are offering a Doctoral position (m/f/d) on primate microbiomes.

Starting in January 2025 (negotiable), full-time (39 h/week)

We are recruiting a motivated student interested in pursuing an PhD project to develop and test research questions about microbiome evolution in a long-term study of wild baboons inhabiting Amboseli National Park in Kenya. These animals have been the subject of continuous study for over 50 years, including regular collection of fecal samples for over 20 years – work that has resulted in the most extensive longitudinal microbiome datasets currently available for any animal species. The student will gain experience with methods for computational analysis of microbial genomes and metagenomes, as well as with bacterial culture. Visits to Amboseli to collect additional samples are also a possibility depending on the candidate’s interests. Specific projects will be developed with the supervisor to fit the interests and background of the doctoral candidate, but may include some of the following:

  1. What is the tempo and mode of adaptation in microbial populations within hosts? Where are the targets of selection in microbial genomes?
  2. Can we predict the distribution and ecology of microbial populations in the wild based on traits we measure in the lab?
  3. How do gut microbes adapt to seasonal shifts in climate and in the diet of their hosts?
  4. Does within-host evolution make the resident microbiome more resistant to colonization by other strains?

References for further reading

  • Zhao et al. 2019. Adaptive evolution within gut microbiomes of healthy people. Cell Host & Microbe 25, 656-667.
  • Garud et al. 2019. Evolutionary dynamics of bacteria in the gut microbiome within and across hosts. PLoS Biology 17:e3000102.

Your qualifications

  • Successfully completed Master’s degree (including M.Sc. thesis) in evolutionary biology, microbiology, genetics, or related fields.
  • Experience with biological lab work, ideally with microorganisms.
  • Knowledge of genomics or bioinformatics is a plus.
  • Strong written and spoken English and the desire to work in a dynamic, international team (knowledge of German is not required for this position).

Our offer

  • An exciting and rewarding job in a young, scientifically oriented, international team in one of the most renowned research institutions in Leipzig
  • Access to state-of-the-art scientific infrastructure
  • Targeted and individual mentoring
  • A structured training program with a flexible range of courses in addition to research on the project
  • The candidate will be enrolled within the International Max Planck Research School “The Leipzig School of Human Origins” (IMPRS-LSHO: link for more information find here)
  • A 3-year doctoral funding contract corresponding to the TVöD Bund (Collective Wage Agreement for the Public Service) that combines research in scientific freedom with social security. It allows doctoral researchers to devote themselves independently to their scientific work without any constraints.
  • Excellent quality of life in Leipzig, including extensive green spaces, public transport options, work subsidy for the Deutschland job ticket, and support from a dedicated International Office
  • Family-friendly offers (support in finding a suitable childcare, family room, flexible working hours)

Interested in applying?

Then we look forward to receiving your application! Please upload your complete application documents, including cover letter, CV and relevant references, to our application tool.

The application deadline is September 1, 2024.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at .

The Max Planck Society and the Department of Primate Behavior and Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology are committed to employing individuals with disabilities and especially encourages them to apply. Additionally, we seek to increase diversity of our workforce in areas where it is underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourage women and members of underrepresented groups to apply.

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