This project will investigate the impact of radiation on the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ) soil microbiome. Most of the remaining radioactivity in the CEZ is in the soil and the presence of radiation gradients (e.g. soil radioactive particles varying > 100-fold) allows comparative studies between low and high radiation sites under similar environmental conditions. Bacterial sensitivity to radiation varies substantially and exposure to high radiation levels is likely to confer a competitive advantage to radiation-resistant strains. Current research in my laboratory has demonstrated that soil microbial community diversity is linked to radiation dose rate and radionuclide levels in the forest soils around Chernobyl. However, whether the correlation between radiation and shifts in microbial community structure are due to radiation itself or to cascading top-down effects from the plant and animal communities is unknown. This project will involve field work in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (optional), soil manipulation experiments, soil biology analyses, DNA sequencing and molecular ecological studies. The data generated will be prominent in the understanding of the ecological consequences of nuclear disasters and will reveal fundamental information of the effect of chronic environmental stress on the ecological resistance of the soil microbiome. This project is a collaboration between the NUI – Galway and researchers based in the UK (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and University of Salford) and in the Ukraine (Chernobyl Centre).
This project is suited to candidates with interests in microbiology, soil biology, microbial evolution and microbial ecology. Experience or willingness to work with bioinformatics in Linux and statistics in R is essential, while training will be provided in metagenomic and microbiome sequence analysis and multivariate statistics. I am accepting potential candidates to carry out either PhD or a postdoctoral project, depending on the candidate’s level and interests. Funding is competitive, and candidates must have an above average CV, preferably a top BSc/MSc grade (for PhD applications), and/or publications in peer-reviewed journals (for postdoctoral grant applications).
Prospective PhD or Postdoctoral candidates are advised to contact supervisory team to discuss applications to the Irish Research Council (http://www.research.ie/funding/). PhD candidates must be from a European Union country, however postdoctoral candidates can be from EU and non-EU countries.
Deadline for applications 25 of October 2018. For further information, contact Dr. Alexandre de Menezes firstname.lastname@example.org