Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology

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The Department of Ecology and Environmental Science at Umeå University, Sweden, invites applicants for a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship on coral symbiont genomics from an aDNA perspective. The position is expected to start mid summer to autumn 2023, or according to agreement. Application deadline is Friday 31st March, 2023 at 23:59.

Project description
Symbioses are prevalent across many biomes and can be critical to the biodiversity, productivity and survival of some of the most charismatic ecosystems on Earth. However, sometimes these symbioses break down. Whilst this may be survivable for the individual partners, it can lead to widespread death of both host and symbiont. Here we use coral reefs as a model system to empirically investigate symbiotic breakdown.

The ecosystem services provided by coral reefs are worth over €78 billion annually and include coastline protection, tourism, food and medical derivatives. However, the health of corals can be significantly impacted by coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is the loss of symbiotic zooxanthellae (Symbiodiniaceae) from tropical corals and can be caused by stressors such as thermal perturbations, disease and freshwater runoff. Thermal perturbations are thought to be a major bleaching trigger and have been well documented in conjunction with major global bleaching events. These mass bleaching events cause widespread coral death, with catastrophic ecosystem and service provision impacts.

Despite the devastation caused by severe coral bleaching, it is still difficult to assess if corals will survive in the warmer oceans projected for the end of the century as we do not fully understand the stability of the symbiotic relationship, particularly over long timescales. To better understand the relevance of current symbiotic breakdowns and their role in the future survival of both host and symbiont, the investigation of historic symbiotic breakdowns in required. This postdoctoral position will work with the PIs’ research groups to focus on aDNA extractions of coral and symbiont genetic material from recent and past coral skeleton.

Project advances beyond the state-of-the-art: We anticipate that the postdoctoral fellow will make key advances in coral bleaching science by: 1) tuning the technique for aDNA extraction from the coral skeleton and 2) collaborating widely within the PIs’ research groups to determine trajectories in coral bleaching recorded in the coral skeleton.

The Postdoctoral Fellow will be based in the Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences and spend time at the Umeå Marine Science Centre, providing a multidisciplinary working environment.  The successful candidate will be an engaged member of a research active team that places a high value on collaborative, multidisciplinary and impactful science. The candidate will have the support of a multidisciplinary team with complementary expertise in coral ecosystems and aDNA environmental ecology.

To be appointed under the postdoctoral agreement, the postdoctoral fellow is required to have completed a doctoral degree or a foreign degree deemed equivalent to a doctoral degree. This qualification requirements must be fulfilled no later than at the time of the appointment decision.

To be appointed under the postdoctoral agreement, priority should be given to candidates who completed their doctoral degree, according to what is stipulated in the paragraph above, no later than three years prior. If there are special reasons, candidates who completed their doctoral degree prior to that may also be eligible. Special reasons include absence due to illness, parental leave, appointments of trust in trade union organisations, military service, or similar circumstances, as well as clinical practice or other forms of appointment/assignment relevant to the subject area. Postdoctoral fellows who are to teach or supervise must have taken relevant courses in teaching and learning in higher education.

The candidate’s doctoral degree should contain a significant component of aDNA methodology.
Essential criteria are:

  • Strong skills in practical aDNA approaches, such as DNA extraction, library preparation and sequencing
  • Good knowledge of oral and written English in a scientific context is required

Meriting criteria are:

  • Knowledge of the molecular ecology of host-microbe symbioses
  • Experience of extracting DNA from calcified/carbonate structures
  • Experience of molecular research on corals or other marine organisms
  • Experience of metagenomic and DNA barcoding bioinformatics, preferably in an aDNA context

A full application should include:

  1. A cover letter summarizing your qualifications, your scientific interests, and your motives for applying (max 2 pages)
  2. A curriculum vitae (CV) with publication list
  3. Certified copy of doctoral degree certificate
  4. Copy of doctoral thesis
  5. Copies of relevant publications (max 5)
  6. Contact information for at least two reference persons

The application should be written in English (preferably) or Swedish. The application is made through our electronic recruitment system before Friday 31st March at 23:59. Documents sent electronically must be in Word or PDF format.

Further Information
Evaluations will be based on the application and on interviews. For more information contact:

  • Prof. Nick Kamenos, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences / Umeå Marine Science Centre,
  • Dr Heidi Burdett, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences,
  • Dr Eric Capo, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences,

Read more about the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science:

Type of employment Temporary position
Contract type Full time
First day of employment 2023-06-30 or according to agreement
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100%
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-418-23
  • Professor Nicholas Kamenos, 090-7867229
Union representative
  • SACO, 090-7865365
  • SEKO, 090-7865296
  • ST, 090-7865431
Published 06.Mar.2023
Last application date 31.Mar.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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