Three-year PhD fellowship
(Meta-)genomics of gut microbiota in wood-feeding termites

Where: Insect Biology Research Institute, University of Tours, UMR CNRS 7261, Tours, France

Starting date: October 1st 2021 or slightly later

Deadline for applications: August 25th, 2021 (Only short-listed candidates will be notified).

Project title: Symbiotic gut protists of the hindgut of termites: evolution, metabolic functions and secondary symbioses with prokaryotes

Background: Many animals harbour in their intestine a diverse microbial community composed by prokaryotes and unicellular eukaryotes (protists). A tremendous amount of research showed that gut microbiotas are often beneficial, contributing to the development, survival or reproduction of their hosts. However, the mechanisms by which gut microbiotas remain highly diverse are poorly understood. One hypothesis is that taxa in interaction within hosts express specific and complementary beneficial functions for the hosts.

Model system: The PhD project will investigate the metabolic functions of gut symbionts living in the hindgut of wood-feeding termites. To digest cellulose, termites indeed rely on a diverse gut microbiota composed by flagellate protists (Parabasalia, Oxymonadida) and various prokaryotes. It has become clear that protists in particular play a crucial role for termite nutrition, although specific functions expressed by protists are poorly known. In addition, protists often harbour prokaryotic ecto- and endo-symbionts, which accomplish important functions such as nitrogen fixation and amino acids synthesis.

Objectives: The PhD project aims to characterize the putative functions of gut protists of the genus Trichonympha (and their associated symbiotic prokaryotes) in Reticulitermes termites. The successful candidate (i) will reconstruct the phylogeny of Trichonympha protists in Reticulitermes termites, (ii) he/she will reconstruct the genomes of ecto and endo-symbionts of various Trichonympha isolated from several Reticulitermes species, and (iii) he/she will characterize symbiotic genes involved in putative metabolic functions of the host.
Mandatory requirement: Master’s degree (or equivalent).

Concepts: microbiology, metabolisms, genome, evolution, phylogeny, (meta-)genomics
Some expertise we seek or to be acquired: Bioinformatics, Comparative genomics, Phylogeny, Statistics, Programming in R, Molecular biology

Skills: motivation, creativity, curiosity, team-work, and good inter-personal relationship with colleagues. Knowledge in evolutionary biology, symbiosis or entomology is a plus

How to apply: By email to Franck Dedeine ( with a motivation letter explaining why you are interested by this position and how you think you are qualified, your CV and names and e-mail addresses of two or three referees who can write letters of reference on your behalf.

Le contenu de cette offre est la responsabilité de ses auteurs. Pour toute question relative à cette offre en particulier (date, lieu, mode de candidature, etc.), merci de les contacter directement. Un email de contact est disponible:

Pout toute autre question, vous pouvez contacter