Bioengineering / Microbiology / Molecular Biology / Metagenomics / Analytical Chemistry
Keywords: recirculating aquaculture systems, hydroponics, aquaponics, microbial, bacterial rhizosphere, plant rooting, probiotics
The University of Gothenburg has 38 000 students and 6 000 employees, and is one of the largest Universities in the Nordic countries. Strong research and study programs attract scientists and students from around the world. The advertised positions are within the department of Marine Science, located at the main campus in Gothenburg and at the two marine research laboratories at Tjärnö and Kristineberg (www.marine.gu.se). Two positions are currently being advertised in this research project funded by the Swedish Research Council Formas.
Industrial aquaponics is a high-density agricultural technique that combines elements of both aquaculture and hydroponics in a synergistic production technology that utilizes fish wastes as plant fertilizer, thus reducing input and waste disposal requirements of both systems.
Technological advances are increasingly moving aquaponics away from small-scale production into industrial environments by focusing on improved macro- and micronutrient recovery. Improvements in engineering design have been able to significantly increase output capacities and have now made industrial aquaponics applications a commercial reality. One method for instance, is the use of decoupled aquaponics systems in which sludge digesters utilize microbial communities to efficiently reuse solid wastes. Although many of the largest facilities worldwide are still in arid regions, this technology is also becoming more popular in Europe as design advances have increasingly made aquaponics not just a water-saving enterprise, but also an energy and waste reduction system. Although some systems are focused primarily on production, others also include an educational mandate, particularly those in urban environments where micro-farming and vertical-growth greenhouses have become popular.
As growth parameters differ between fish and plants, the microbiome plays a significant role in remineralization and bioavailability of nutrients in aquaponic systems. Although technical specifications for pH, microbial remineralization and nitrification processes have received much research attention, relatively few studies have characterized other types of bacterial assemblages that either inhibit or stimulate fish and plant growth. For instance, biocontrol of microbes is an important consideration for both producers and consumers, given that the use of disinfection chemicals or antibiotics to control pathogens, or probiotics and phytogenics to stimulate growth, can have profound effects on microbial populations and hence plant and animal health throughout a closed system.
Beneficial microbes are important at all stages of production and can be enhanced by the addition of probiotics as they are crucial to the functioning of biofilters and sludge digesters. They serve important functions in improve fish gut health and to reduce the spread of pathogens in the aquaculture component, as well as in promoting plant growth and rooting. To-date, there is considerable discipline-specific literature in aquaculture, hydroponics and bioengineering that can help inform and enhance microbial performance in aquaponics. However, there is limited understanding of linkages in the microbiome among compartments of aquaponics systems.
The position is part of a project examining the role of microbial populations in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), in anaerobic digesters and in hydroponics (HYP) units with the goal of better understanding conditions that will maximise beneficial transfers of microbes and their products among components of decoupled aquaponics systems. There are many different approaches to examining these aspects of production, from the use of next-generation sequencing to map microbial communities, or biochemical analyses to characterize how microbes improve nutrition for fish and plants. Hence the specific scientific background of the candidate is less important than their interest in the topics and demonstrated qualifications in their respective field.
We are seeking a candidate who is independent and self-motivated given that details of the project can be adjusted based on the candidate’s skills and interests. The candidate will be working in a multidisciplinary team of engineers, pathologists, food scientists, modellers and policy-makers involving several international research groups, thus exemplary teamwork and communication skills as well as the ability to travel are essential. The candidate will be expected to lead their project but i) develop and discuss their ideas with team members and the PI; ii) to initiate and carry out their work within a collaborative environment but with limited supervision; iii) write well-formulated reports and academic articles.
The candidate will be responsible for running applied experiments in several different labs internationally, thus requiring flexibility for extended stays in various locations; further international travel will also be necessary to participate in meetings, working groups, conferences and visits with industry partners.
Candidate must possess a PhD in molecular biology, microbiology, biochemistry, veterinary medicine, bioengineering, biotechnology, cell biology or related disciplines. It is not a requirement that the candidate has experience with aquaponics or prior experience in hydroponic crop production (commercial greenhouse facilities) and/or the operation of recirculating aquaculture systems, but such experience would be useful. Please note clearly on your application if you have any relevant skills such as technical operation of aquarium / aquaculture tanks, hydroponics or irrigation systems, or prior work in the operation of multiphase bioreactors.
Please also indicate on your application if you have relevant experience including prior coursework or relevant industry internships/collaborations in at least two of the following areas: bioprocess engineering, biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, bioinformatics, analytical chemistry, or microbial genomics. Experience in several of the following methodologies will also be advantageous: microscopy techniques with confocal, epifluorescence, digital holographic or multi-photon, super-resolution (STED, dSTORM, etc) and/or electron microscopy, cell and bacterial culturing; identifying cell signalling molecules, chromatography (HPLC / GC), fluorescent tags/probes, UV spectroscopy.
If the following items are not evident on the CV, please state clearly in the cover letter how you meet the following requirements:
- Proof of research and scientific writing skills with at least 3 published peer-reviewed articles as first author in peer-reviewed journals (please also highlight any technical reports written). Full-text of articles must be provided with the application.
- Relevant experience as specified above with microbiology and/or analytical chemistry
- Willingness to travel internationally for longer research periods in partner laboratories as well as frequent travel for participation in working groups, conferences, and visits with industry partners
- Demonstrated statistical skills, including software such as R
Good communication skills in English (written and spoken) are necessary. A valid driver’s license is required. The position also involves frequent international travel as the work is being conducted with partners in international laboratories. Candidates without any prior international work/study experience will not be considered.
A start date is required prior to May 15, 2019, but the exact start date for this position is negotiable depending on the availability of a suitable candidate. The post-doctoral fellow will be hired for a two-year period to lead this project. Extent: 100 %. Location: Department of Marine Sciences, Gothenburg
The application must include:
- A CV and short cover letter that describes how the applicant meets the selection criteria
- Full text of three accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts
- Name and contact details of three referees
Regulations for the evaluation of qualifications for academic positions are given in Chapter 4, Section 3 - 4 of the Higher Education Ordinance.
For further information about the position, please contact Alyssa Joyce:
How to apply
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