3 PhD positions available in environmental friendly fruit pest and vector control at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany

At the Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany, in the Department of Insect Biotechnology there are currently 3 PhD positions available in the field of insect pest and vector control. The positions are to be filled immediately for 3 years. The applicants are expected to participate in the Giessen Graduate School of the Life Sciences PhD program.

Topic:

With increasing resistance of pest insects to common insecticides and the permanent spread of invasive species by global trade and travel, there is a constant need and urgent demand for new strategies to control agricultural pests and disease vectors. To reduce the impact on the environment and provide a long-term perspective for pest control, these strategies should be highly species-specific, effective and sustainable, and have a low chance of resistance development. The sterile insect technique (SIT) and RNA Interference (RNAi) are two approaches with the potential to fulfill these requirements.
Target pests are the spotted wing drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, and the invasive fruit pest Ceratitis capitata (medfly). D. suzukii is an invasive pest of soft-skinned fruit. Originally native to East Asia, D. suzukii was introduced into many countries in America, Europe and Asia during the last decade. The recent invasion in Hessen poses a serious threat to the local fruit and wine industry and calls for new pest control strategies. In addition to conventional pesticides and SIT-programs, there is an urgent need for non-transgenic alternatives such as RNA Interference-based pest control systems.
The successful applicants will apply state-of-the-art molecular biology, genetics and bioinformatics approaches to develop new, genetically modified insect strains for SIT programs. A crucial requirement for successful SIT is the availability of sexing strains to ensure male-only releases. This not only increases the efficacy of SIT programs but also considerably reduces costs. The main goal therefore is to generate cost effective, environmentally safe, high throughput and user-friendly sexing strains for SIT programs. Moreover, the applicants will create new strategies to control these pest insects by RNAi approaches to provide non-transgenic alternatives. For RNAi, factors like the applicability in the field, RNA stability in the environment, attraction of the pest, oral uptake, digestion and cellular uptake have to be considered.
The successful applicants will design and carry out experiments with a range of techniques including but not limited to RNA Interference, molecular cloning, PCR, qPCR and next-generation sequencing. The applicant will also participate in managing and coordinating the work in the insectaries in agreement with the other current projects to ensure high quality rearing and safety standards.

Expected skills:

You have a completed academic university degree (Master’s or equivalent) in biology, molecular biology, genetics or a comparable scientific field, ideally with proven practical laboratory experience. You also have very good theoretical knowledge of technologies such as homologous recombination, CRISPR, RNA interference and transgenesis and very good theoretical knowledge and practical skills in molecular biology methods and techniques. Experience with insect rearing, fluorescence microscopy, cell culture and protein analysis are desirable, experience in dealing with genome databases and database searches is an advantage and good knowledge in statistics are required. Due to the international research environment, very good knowledge of English is essential, both in spoken and written English (Proficiency CEFR level: B2).

Description of the Team:

The group of Prof. Dr. Marc F. Schetelig currently consists of 4 postdoctoral researchers, 2 technicians and several bachelor and masters students involved in the insect rearing and the molecular biology work.

The Justus-Liebig-University Giessen:

The University is located in the town Giessen 70 km north of Frankfurt, in the state of Hesse, Germany. Besides the JLU with more than 28,000 students, Giessen is home to the Technical University of Middle Hesse with more than 16,000 students, resulting in the highest number of students per inhabitant for all German University towns.
Giessen is surrounded by several old castles on small hill tops, with small mountain ranges to the northeast and south. The area is rich in history dating back to the roman empire, with the famous Limes wall very close by.
Public transportation will bring you to Frankfurt City center within 45 min and to the Cologne area in roughly 2.5 hrs.

Applications:

Please send your applications via email to Prof. Dr. Marc F. Schetelig: biocontrol@agrar.uni-giessen.de
Deadline for applications is 24. February 2017.

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