PhD Scholarship In Agricultural Science And Bioengineering

PhD Scholarship In Agricultural Science And Bioengineering


Mycorrhizal fungi (either arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) or ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi) are key soil microorganisms associated to the vast majority of agricultural, horticultural and forestry plants, improving their growth and resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses. They are thus of wide importance in agricultural/forestry practices. Their role in carbon, water and nutrient cycling is of paramount importance, particularly under conditions of climate change. Within this thesis, communities of mycorrhizal fungi that comprise single to several species will be grown in greenhouse in association with mono or mixed tree-species communities to test the hypothesis that changes in mycorrhizal community modify (i) the total pool of available resources and water, and (ii) the way this pool is redistributed between the tree species. We will also test the hypothesis that a community of mixed tree species connected with a single fungus will better exploit/redistribute nutrients and water than a community that comprises one single tree species connected with the fungus. The mesocosm experiments will be conducted under contrasting conditions of nutrient and water availability.

The PhD position is associated to a larger European project, MixForChange, funded by the European Commission for 36 months.

The position is available for a period of 36 months. Your key tasks as a PhD student in MixForChange are:

  • Participate in the research environment at the host institution and the network activities of MixForChange
  • Manage your research project
  • Take PhD courses
  • Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis
  • Participate in congresses
  • Teach and disseminate your research

More Information


Eligibility criteria

It is required that the candidate shall at the date of recruitment, be in the first four years (full time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.

Selection process

The application, in English, must be submitted by mail to and

Please include

  • Motivation Letter, stating why you want to pursue a PhD career and to what extent does the given project complies with your skills and ambition
  • Full CV including studies, research experience, work experience and publications if any
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
  • 3 referees (Name, address, telephone & email)
  • Documentation of English language qualifications

The deadline for applications is 15/01/2021. Applications received later than this date will not be considered.

Recruitment Process: After the expiry of the deadline for applications, we will evaluate all applications and select the best three candidates based on the quality of the candidates’ previous training, qualifications and skills (as listed above), CV and their motivation for the research topic. The best three candidates will be interviewed by visio-conference or in presence if possible. The applicants will be notified of the final selection.

Additional comments

Brief description of MixForChange

Forest landscape restoration and afforestation have recently received much international attention as a crucial opportunity for mitigating climate change (CC). In the face of CC, adaptation and mitigation by forests are ultimately linked, because the ability of forests to sequester carbon (C) in the long run depends on the ability of trees to cope with multiple stresses. A growing body of evidence suggests that mixed forest plantations, i.e., plantations where several tree species are mixed, are more efficient in sequestrating C, while better coping with CC-related stress. Mixed plantations thus represent an opportunity for an important nature-based solution for CC mitigation and adaptation.

However, monocultures still dominate the world’s forest plantations. One of the possible factors that may have prevented the expansion of mixed plantations at large scales is insufficient scientific evidence for practitioners and policy-makers. Using a global network of forest biodiversity experiments (TreeDivNet), we will provide a mechanistic understanding of how tree diversity, species identities and management (thinning and fertilization) influence both the potential of mixed forest plantations to mitigate (C sequestration) and adapt (drought and herbivory resilience) to CC, in a win-win approach. In addition, we will translate this knowledge into guidelines that can be widely adopted by practitioners and policy-makers.

MixForChange will therefore make an important contribution to promoting mixed forest plantations as nature-based solutions to fight CC.


Offer Requirements


    Agricultural sciences: Master Degree or equivalent


  • A master’s degree related to the subject area of the project
  • The grade point average achieved should be more than 75 % of the maximum
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD programme
    • background in microbiology, plant-microbe interactions, molecular biology, forestry sciences
    • skills in statistics and data analysis, and experience with common statistical softwares such as SAS or R;
  • Language skills: fluency in English
Title PhD scholarship in agricultural science and bioengineering
Employer Université catholique de Louvain
Job location Place de l’Université 1, 1348 Louvain-La-Neuve
Published December 9, 2020
Application deadline January 15, 2021
Job types PhD  
Fields Environmental Science,   Ecology,   Agronomy,   Botany and plant science,   Forestry,   Molecular Biology,   Microbiology,   Horticulture,   Plant Fertilization, Animal and Human Nutrition and 4 more.        
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