Post Doctoral Research Associate in Soil Biology
Department of Life Sciences
Salary: From £34,304 per annum
This post is full time at 1.0 FTE and fixed term for 36 months
Closing Date: Wednesday 02 March 2022
Interview Date: Monday 21 March 2022
Climate change combined with an increasing demand for food represents a substantial challenge for the sustainable production of food and management of ecosystems going forward. Soils lie at the heart of this challenge. Saltwater contamination of agricultural soils is an emerging problem in temperate coastal areas as fresh ground water sits on top of deeper sea water and in the increasingly dry periods freshwater levels fall closer to the saline interface, which is rising as sea levels rise. This means not only are soils becoming more saline, but that groundwater used for crop irrigation is becoming increasingly saline too.
However, despite being highly productive areas of agriculture, the short- and long-term effects of increased salinity for agricultural soils and crops in temperate areas are poorly understood. Soil bacteria and fungi are key to soil fertility as they drive nutrient cycling, but very little is known about how soil organisms respond to increased salinity. Previous work shows that saline irrigation affects soil communities, and that soil organisms from saline soils are more tolerant to salt than those from non-saline soils. This leads to the prediction soil organisms can adapt to changes in soil salinity. This project will evaluate whether Darwinian selection processes can be reliably used to ‘push’ soil biological communities to become increasingly tolerant of saline conditions by the process of adaptation, and if so, will evaluate the functional consequences of this for soil quality and crop yield. We seek an individual who is highly motivated to help test how soil biology responds to changes in salinity. This project is part of a consortium associated with the European Joint Programme in Soil and is funded by BBSRC.
We require a person that has experience with and can demonstrate strength and skills in:
- fieldwork, with soils or in agriculture including the management of large experiments or trials;
- the analyses of soil biology using next-generation sequencing approaches with bar-code amplicons and RNA sequencing; and
- the bioinformatic and statistical analysis of barcode amplicon data to test hypotheses. Ideally the candidate will have experience with evaluating the function of soil microbiomes, preferably via RNA analysis.
Ideally you will have experience with additional methods of soil biological, chemical or physical analysis and/or with plant or crop analyses. You will also have a proven track record in leading the generation and publication of quality peer-reviewed published manuscripts and the dissemination of research at both specialist science conferences as well at events aimed at the general non-specialist public.
Enquires may be addressed to Professor Mat Goddard, firstname.lastname@example.org