PhD position (100%) in Plant Microbiota Interactions

100% / The position is available from now on; start upon agreement

The research groups 'Plant-Soil interactions' (University of Zurich, and 'Plant Microbe Interactions' (University of Basel, are welcoming applications for a joint PhD project. We investigate fundamental questions of plant microbiome biology, we want to uncover how plants communicate to and benefit from their microbiota for growth and defense.

Your position

The PHD project studies the interface of plants and their microbiome. While it is known that plants adjust their root microbiome under pathogen attack, it remains unknown how plants modulate their microbial communities. Goal of this project is to decipher the plant exudate and root microbiota dynamics during pathogen attack. The project includes metabolomic and microbiomic research using defined microcosm experiments with Arabidopsis thaliana and synthetic bacterial communities. This project aims at identifying key exudate metabolites that my permit future breeding towards plant cultivars with 'disease-protective microbiomes' as sustainable solution to control pathogen burden.

Your profile

We look for a talented PhD student with a strong interest in plant microbiomes and plant health. Applicants are expected to have an educational background in plant-microbe interactions with eventual experience in analytical chemistry, molecular biology or microbiology. Further experience in one or several of the following methodologies is advantageous: experimental soil-plant-microbe work, microbiome analysis, sterile work, metabolomics, handling large data sets, or bioinformatics. We are searching a team player that is highly self-motivated and committed, with a proactive mindset and a getting-things-done attitude. Applicants require good communication skills and willingness to integrate into two research groups in Zurich and Basel. We expect excellent University grades at the MSc level. Fluent spoken and written English are prerequisites for this position.

We offer you

We offer a dynamic research environment, including state-of-the-art research facilities and enthusiastic colleagues from different nationalities and scientific backgrounds. This is a joint project of Prof. Dr. Joëlle Schlaepfer (University of Zürich, metabolomic expertise) and Prof. Dr. Klaus Schlaeppi (University of Basel, microbiomic expertise). The PhD student will be enrolled at the doctoral program of the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center (PSC,, affiliated with both Universities and in continuous contact with both research groups. The position is for 4 years and the salary will be according to the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Application / Contact

Please send your complete application documents in ONE pdf, including a motivation letter, a CV and contact details of two references. Applications must be uploaded to the recruiting portal (upload the ONE pdf in the cover letter and the CV extra in resume). For further information please contact Prof. Dr. Joëlle Schlaepfer ( or Prof. Dr. Klaus Schlaeppi ( Application deadline: 25.04.2021, interviews: early Mai.