The ocean microbiome is fundamental for the functioning of the biosphere. Microbes are the foundation of the ocean ecosystem, responsible for approximately 50% of global primary productivity transporting at least five gigatons of carbon to the depths of the ocean each year, equivalent to approximately 50% of current anthropogenic carbon emissions. Global change can affect the marine microbiome and affect key ecosystem functions, yet we know very little about how microbes will respond to long-term environmental challenges and the role that evolution and epigenetics will play. This represents a major knowledge gap considering the potential large-scale effects that changing microbial assemblages could have for global ecosystem function. The supervisory team is addressing this challenge in the projects MINIME and WILDE and in order to investigate long-term environmental effects in microbial populations the team, together with other ICM colleagues, has generated one of the longest marine metagenome time-series to date, The Blanes Bay Microbial Observatory (BBMO; monthly samples over 12 years (2009-2020). The team has also access to a second metagenome time-series (the SOLA station in the Bay of Banyuls sur Mer, France; monthly samples over 7 years: 2009-2015). The team is also generating state-of-the-art long-read sequences from Blanes samples (SMRT PacBio Sequel II) from samples taken 10 years apart that will enable the direct comparison of high-quality genomes and functional groups over evolutionary relevant timescales for microbes. These unique datasets will be available for the student. The team has already shown the value of metagenomic dataset for investigating the evolution of marine microbes. Overall, the PhD candidate will carry out research in expanding interdisciplinary research fields such as microbial population genomics, microevolution, paelogenomics and epigenetics.

Job position description:

This project includes state-of-the-art techniques in omics, biocomputing, evolutionary theory, epigenetics with the expertise in these fields from the supervisory team, contributing to its overall excellence. The training will allow the PhD candidate to acquire an in-depth knowledge of advanced methods in evolutionary genomics, epigenetics, high-throughput DNA sequencing and ‘omics’ techniques to understand the genomic reactions of ocean microbes to global change, likely leading to high impact publications.

The PhD candidate will be integrated into the Log Lab, the Ecology of Marine Microbes (EEM) research group, and the ICM community, putting him/her in an extremely advantageous position to exchange knowledge with experts in marine microbial ecology and evolution, oceanography, paleo-oceanography, biogeochemistry, omics and bioinformatics.
The PhD candidate will contribute to seminars and international conferences to disseminate research findings and create new collaborations. Furthermore, publication of results in peer-reviewed journals will further strengthen the communication skills of the candidate. The student will be trained in the new and emerging fields of time-series metagenomics and epigenetics, which are highly relevant and complementary to other research fields such as, evolution of pathogens (perfectly exemplified by the evolutionary tracking of new strains of SARS-CoV-210), microbes that could be evolved and used in bioremediation, degradation of pollutants (e.g. microplastics) or in biotech, greatly increasing opportunities to transfer to future research positions.

The PhD will be based in Barcelona, Spain, at the Marine Science Institute (ICM-CSIC)

To apply, send an e-mail with a letter of application, CV and 2 letters of recommendation to: [email protected]

More information here: https://finder.lacaixafellowships.org/finder?position=5339

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