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Phd student in ecophysiology and ecotoxicology (H/F)

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Français - Anglais

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General information

Reference : UMR7372-FREANG-002
Date of publication : Monday, May 04, 2020
Scientific Responsible name : Frédéric Angelier, Clémentine Fritsch, François Brischoux
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 October 2020
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

What is the role of pesticides in the susceptibility of vertebrates to pathogens?

The concept of "One Health" is based on an integrative approach to human, animal and environmental health. It stems from the fact that the majority of emerging diseases are of animal origin and result from ecological imbalances. In this context, the study of the impact of pesticides on ecosystems, wildlife and human health takes on its full meaning. Indeed, it is now obvious that pollutants, by disturbing ecological balances, impact the dynamics of various diseases. Moreover, these pollutants are often major endocrine and immune disruptors that can therefore increase susceptibility to these diseases.

In this context, this thesis project aims to improve the understanding of the processes and practices responsible for the emergence of resistance in pathogens, taking the example of aspergillosis in birds and the use of fungicides as phytosanitary products. It thus aims to define situations at risk of emergence and spread of resistant infectious pathogens to wildlife and humans. This thesis project will test the hypothesis that environmental fungicide contaminations in agroecosystems increase the presence and occurrence of resistant strains of aspergillosis in the environment. It will examine whether fungicides adversely affect the health of common birds by weakening their physiological systems and increasing the emergence of resistant strains of aspergillosis.
This thesis project will be based on an interdisciplinary approach linking ecotoxicology, physiology, functional ecology, environmental and analytical chemistry, and molecular biology. The two objectives of the thesis will be the following:

Obj. 1: Degree of fungicide contamination and resistant strains in anthroposystems
The objective will be to identify within anthroposystems (1) the degree of fungicide contamination and (2) the occurrence of aspergillosis and resistant strains. The fieldwork will take place in wine-growing and urban areas where fungicide treatments and the occurrence of aspergillosis are important. A dozen viticultural, urban and forest sites with a gradient of fungicide use will be selected. On these sites, non-lethal blood samples will be taken from common birds. These measurements will make it possible to measure the degree of contamination of the ecosystem and relate it to the occurrence of aspergillosis and resistant strains.

Objective 2: Experimental study of the influence of triazoles on pathogen resistance
The objective will be to understand the additional risk that fungicide contamination may pose to organisms exposed to pathogens. For this purpose, captive birds kept in experimental aviaries at the CEBC will be exposed to environmental doses of triazoles while other unexposed birds will form a control group. Following this exposure, the functioning of the physiological systems involved in pathogen resistance will be examined (immunity, hormonal axes) in order to detect the potential for endocrine and immune disruption of fungicides. This experiment will be conducted in adult birds, but also in developing chicks to test the potential deleterious effect of these fungicides on the ontogeny of these key physiological systems.

Financial support and valorization
The thesis project is part of the PEPSAN (PI: C. Fritsch, MITI, Mission pour l'interdisciplinarité du CNRS) and BIODITOX (PI: F. Brischoux, ANSES) projects which will provide financial support for the missions and analyses related to this thesis. The project will rely on the expertise of the thesis directors in ecophysiology and ecotoxicology and on the means made available at the CEBC (biological analysis platform, experimental aviaries). The work will be promoted through scientific publications in international journals and participation in conferences. The results will also be transmitted to decision-makers via the network of supervisors.

Work Context

The student will be part of the Evolutive Ecophysiology team of the Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (UMR 7372, CNRS, La Rochelle University, 79360 Villiers en Bois) where he will be based. It will be attached to the Euclide Doctoral School (La Rochelle University). The student will carry out his thesis under the supervision of F. Angelier (CEBC), C. Fritsch (LCE, Chrono-Environnement laboratory, Besançon) and F. Brischoux (CEBC). The fieldwork will be done in connection with CEBC (CNRS, Chizé), LCE (CNRS, Besançon) and an international partner (D. Wysocki, Szczecin, Poland). It will mainly take place in New-Aquitaine, as well as in Poland (mission of 1-2 months). Experimental studies will be carried out at the CEBC. Physiological analyses will be carried out on the CEBC's biological analysis platform while aspergillosis analyses will be carried out at the LCE. Pesticide analyses will be carried out in collaboration with partner organisations (EPOC, Bordeaux and ISA, Lyon).

Constraints and risks

As some of the project activities will take place in the field, it is necessary for the PhD student to be in good health. Field or laboratory experience with wild or captive animals will be appreciated.

Additional Information

The candidate must hold an engineering degree and/or a master's degree in ecology, ecophysiology or ecotoxicology (Bac +5). The position requires solid knowledge in ecology, ecophysiology and ecotoxicology, advanced statistical knowledge, and good oral and written communication skills (French and English required, level B2 or higher) to present at congresses and write articles in scientific journals. The candidate must hold a B permit. We are looking for a young researcher who will be able to get involved in his or her project, who is curious, has a certain autonomy and a strong motivation to carry out field work, conduct experiments in captivity and develop skills in biological analysis. Experience in animal care, wild vertebrate handling and laboratory analysis will be a plus. Finally, the candidate should be able to work in a team environment on multidisciplinary projects.

Applications should include
- a detailed CV
- at least two referees (e.g. M2 placement supervisor)
- a one-page cover letter
- grades and rankings from Master 1 or 2 or engineering school.

The selection of candidates will be made on a case by case basis with a deadline for applications of 15/06/2020.

Les candidatures devront inclure :
- un CV détaillé
- au moins deux personnes référentes (ex : superviseur de stage de M2)
- une lettre de motivation d'une page
- les notes et classements de Master 1 ou 2 ou d'école d'ingénieur.

La sélection des candidats se fera au fur et à mesure des candidatures avec comme date limite de candidature le 15/06/2020.

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