Palaeoviromes: Host–Virus Interactions in Polar Regions from Ancient Sedimentary RNA/DNA

Viruses are an essential part of all ecosystems. However, our understanding of past virus dynamics and host–virus interactions is limited. Utilizing ancient DNA/RNA from lake sediments could contribute to a more holistic view of past ecosystem changes. The aim of this PhD project is to establish laboratory and bioinformatics protocols for the extraction and identification of RNA/DNA viruses. The envisioned protocols should be capable of identifying host–virus interactions within terrestrial polar ecosystems. Target systems include bacteriophage interaction with soil nutrient cycling, Antarctic bird-virome dynamics, and full-ecosystem-level virome changes in response to millennial-scale warming.

• Establish laboratory and bioinformatics routines for sedimentary ancient RNA extraction and virus identification
• Analyse a shotgun dataset to identify changes in hosts and viruses in polar (Arctic and Antarctic ecosystems over the last 30,000 years
• Potentially, conduct fieldwork in polar regions

• Master’s or equivalent degree in biology, chemistry, bioinformatics, or a related discipline
• Knowledge of molecular genetics and bioinformatics, preferably with laboratory experience in molecular genetics (RNA/DNA extraction, PCR, and library preparation for NGS sequencing)
• Knowledge in data handling using R (or another syntax-based language)
• Highly motivated to publish results in international journals and present at international conferences
• Interest in conducting field work in polar regions
• Good communication skills in English, both oral and written and ability to work in an interdisciplinary environment

Further Information
Please contact Prof. Dr. Ulrike Herzschuh ([email protected]; +49 ( 0) 331 58174-5601) or Dr. Simeon Lisovski ([email protected]; +49(331)58174-5635) for further information. This position is limited to 3 years. The salary will be paid in accordance with the Collective Agreement for the Public Service of the Federation (Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes, TVöD Bund), up to salary level 13 (66%). The place of employment will be Potsdam. All doctoral candidates will be members of AWI's postgraduate program POLMAR or another graduate school and thus benefit from a comprehensive training program and extensive support measures.

The AWI is characterised by
• our scientific success - excellent research
• collaboration and cooperation - intra-institute, national and international, interdisciplinary
• opportunities to develop – on the job and towards other positions
• an international environment – everyday contacts with people from all over the world
• flexible working hours and the possibility of mobile working up to 50% of regular working hours
• support services and a culture of reconciling work and family
• Occupational pension provision (VBL)

Equal opportunities are an integral part of our personnel policy. The AWI aims to increase the number of employees who are women, and therefore strongly encourages qualified women to apply. Applicants with disabilities will be given preference when equal qualifications are present. The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family in various ways and has received a number of awards as a result of this engagement. We look forward to your application!

Please submit your application, including (1) a letter of motivation, (2) a CV and copies of relevant certificates (master’s degree; training), (3) two letters of recommendation or the contact information of two references, by August 14th, 2023. Electronic applications only. Interviews will take place between 04th and 08th of September 2023.

Reference number: 23/143/D/INSPIRES-b