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Joint PhD position in Biology between Tours and Exeter (M/F) - Microbiota protection against lepidoptera pathogens

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

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General information

Reference : UMR7261-ELIHER-002
Workplace : TOURS
Date of publication : Sunday, December 01, 2019
Scientific Responsible name : Elisabeth Herniou
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 April 2020
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

Are you curious about complex biological interactions between friendly and pathogenic microbes? Are you interested in improving biological control for a sustainable agriculture? Do you want to participate in an innovative European training network to assist the upcoming industry of insect mass rearing?
Many moth species are serious agricultural pests, against which pathogenic bacteria, fungi and viruses are widely used as biological control agents. But treatment efficacy may vary, in particular on different crops. Advances in sequencing technology have shown that the microbial community associated with insects varies on different food plants, while some of these natural gut microbes could evolve to facilitate pathogen infection. We have observed similar interactions with baculoviruses. Therefore, we aim to uncover how element of the microbiota may confer additional pathogenic activities to microbial control agents or conversely protect insects against pathogens. Altogether, these investigations will integrate interactions between Lepidoptera, food, microbiota and pathogens to understand how they affect insect health. The knowledge obtained will be fundamental to tailor new biological control applications and to optimize insect mass rearing methods.

Work Context

The PhD position you are applying for is part of a large Double Degree Programme called INSECT DOCTORS, funded by the European Commission. The overall aim of the INSECT DOCTORS' training programme is to educate a new generation of scientist that have in-depth knowledge on insect pathogens, as well as the skills to assist the upcoming industry of insect mass rearing to prevent disease outbreaks in their insect cultures.
In total, 15 PhD positions are available in this programme, and each PhD candidate will be enrolled at two universities in different European countries. Each PhD candidate will have his/her own research project involving stays in at least two countries. Several novel PhD courses will be offered to all PhD candidates of INSECT DOCTORS. Start dates for all these PhD positions are scheduled for April/May 2020. To learn more about the training network please visit our website:
The student will be primarily based at the Insect Biology Research Institute (IRBI), UMR 7261 CNRS – University of Tours (France) under the supervision of CNRS Research Director Elisabeth Herniou. Dr Ben Raymond, associate Professor in microbiology and entomology at the University of Exeter (UK), will co-supervise the PhD programme. The student will be required to spend at least 12 months at the Penryn Campus of the University of Exeter in Cornwall. The double degree for this PhD position will be awarded by the University of Tours (France) and the University of Exeter (UK).Both supervisors have broad experience of insect pathogens and investigating ecological and evolutionary hypotheses in insect microbe systems.
Tours is a lively city set at the heart of the Loire Valley UNESCO world heritage site, known for its natural beauty and its majestic historical monuments. Renowned for its gastronomy and culture, the region is appreciated for its high quality of life. Located in a woodland South of the city, the science campus is close to all amenities.
The Penryn Campus of the University of Exeter is set in 100 acres of countryside, close to the waterside town of Falmouth, and boasts beautiful views over the Fal estuary. It offers a dynamic life science environment set in area of outstanding natural beauty, as well as a lively student community from science, engineering, humanities and arts backgrounds.

Constraints and risks

In order to be eligible for a place within INSECT DOCTORS, strict rules are set out by the European Commission. So please make sure you comply with these rules when applying.
1. You must be an Early-Stage Researcher (ESR), meaning that at the day of your recruitment (= start date of your contract) you must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of your research career, after obtaining your MSc degree.
2. You have not been awarded a doctoral degree before.
3. Mobility Rule: You must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the day of your recruitment. For this particular PhD position the country of the recruiting organisation is France. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention 1, are not taken into account.
Furthermore, to ensure efficient communication within INSECT DOCTORS, proof of English language proficiency is required. In case the candidate 1) is from an Anglophone country, or 2) has completed his/her education with English as the language of instruction (in this case an official letter of the higher education institution is needed stating so), an English Language Test is not needed. In all other cases, we require the PhD students to submit an internationally recognized Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language that is not older than 24 months. Minimum required scores are:
a. TOEFL internet-based 90, with minimum sub-score 23 for speaking
b. IELTS 6.5, with minimum sub-score 6.0 for speaking
c. Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) minimum grade B
d. Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) any grade
Please note, that these rules are not negotiable.
Some knowledge of the French language would be a bonus but is not compulsory. Enrollment to French classes at University of Tours is offered by the doctorate school as part of the PhD programme to non-French speakers.

Qualifications / Skills:
•An MSc degree in life sciences, microbiology, evolutionary biology, entomology, or a related field
•Skills in microbiology and/or entomology as well as interest in the other discipline
•Skills in experimental design and statistical analysis using R
•A proven ability to organize laboratory experiments and an affinity to work with insects
•Ability to work in an international research team in a collaborative spirit and eagerness to participate in the INSECT DOCTORS training program
•Willingness to carry out research in France and England

Additional Information

Only applications submitted via the CNRS job portal before January 10, 2020 will be examined

Please submit the following items for your application
2.Motivation letter (Please indicate in your application whether you have also applied or intend to apply for other PhD positions in the INSECT DOCTORS programme.)
3.MSc and BSc diploma's with list of marks.
4.Proof of sufficient English language test results or proof of MSc education in English.

Gross monthly salary comprising mobility stipends start at 2800€, to which family supplements may apply.

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