Publish Date: 27.07.2011

Category: Job vacancies



Postdoctoral position

Molecular aspects of microbial ecology:
sand dune-surface inhabiting micro-organisms, their transportation by wind and survival under extreme conditions

Sand fell on Tian’anmen square (March 2010). Tons of sand affected more than 270 million people in 16 provinces in China, showing that sandstorms could become a problem as desertification expands (thanks to deforestation and unstoppable urbanization development).
We will compare the microbial communities that are transported by sand storms to different parts of the world. In China, groups of typical survivor taxa will be selected to serve as markers of the transport (and possible infection) cycle. Use of such microbial markers, taken from Gobi desert, Takelamagan Shamo and Shandong Peninsula will permit tracking of flight-pathways and survival of micro-organisms in China.

In addition, in collaboration with Berlin University (Materials and Environment Department; Drs. A. Gorbushina and W.S. Broughton) and USGS Center in St Petersburg-Florida (Center for Coastal Geology and Regional Marine Studies; Dr. Dale Griffin), our data will be used to map the intercontinental transport of sand bacteria on Earth following the same East-pacific storm.

Finally, our experiments will show how micro-organisms resist extreme conditions as well as how sand storms contribute to the spread of soil crusts and microbial communities around the world.

Micro-organisms that inhabit the dune sea on the banks of Huang He will be characterized at the microscopic, cultural and molecular level:

  • microscopic investigations by light, fluorescent, confocal and scanning electron microscopy; morphological characterization, as well as quantification of cells through the use of fluorescent stains (DAPI),
  • biochemical investigations
  • molecular identification of microbes adhering to the sand (fungi and bacteria) will be based on separating (DGGE) and analyzing sequences of genes encoding small-subunit rRNA (16S and 18S) and the inter-genic spaces (IGS). Next generation sequencing techniques (Illumina sequencing) may also be developed to identify those micro-organisms that cannot easily be cultured or amplified.
  • Techniques to collect aerial dust samples that reach the Chinese coast will be developed. Special attention will be devoted to the survival and spread of micro-organisms that colonize agricultural crops during dust storms.

Contacts: Prof. Dr. Picimbon Jean-François, ?? and Prof. Dr. Shousong Yue
Institution: Shandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Type of organization: High Tech Research Center
Division: Functional Genomics & Proteomics of Chemical Ecology
Address: 11, Sang Yuan Road,
ZIP code: 250100, City: Jinan, country: P.R. China
Tel: 0086-531-83175350/Fax: 0086-531-83178156

Deadline for application (end of August) and procedure to apply for postdoctoral position can be found at