Ledig stilling ved NMBU

PhD scholarship within ruminant host - microbiome interactions

Deadline: 24.05.2019

About the position

Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences (IHA), Faculty of Biosciences (BIOVIT) at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Ås, near Oslo, has a vacant 3-year Ph–position related to ruminant host-microbiome interactions.

The position is intended to start in August 2019.

Norwegian University of Life Sciences

NMBU has a special responsibility for research and education that ensures the basis of life for future generations.

Sustainability is rooted in everything we do and we provide knowledge for life.

NMBU has 1700 employees and 5200 students and is organized in seven faculties. NMBU has a campus in Ås and in Oslo. In the autumn of 2020 we are co-located on Ås.

Further information on NMBU is available at www.nmbu.no.


BIOVIT is organized into two departments: Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences (IHA) and Department of Plant Sciences (IPV). The main objective of BIOVIT is to contribute to the development of sustainable agriculture and food production systems through basic and applied research on plants and animals including fish (aquaculture).

Research is organized in the following groups: Breeding and Quantitative Genetics, Ethology and Animal Environment, Nutrition and Physiology in Monogastric Animals, Ruminant Nutrition and Physiology, Genome Biology, Agroecology, Genetics and Plant Breeding, Plant Biology and Plant Biotechnology, Plant Protection and Food Crops.

The faculty houses the Centre for Integrative Genetics (CIGENE) and the research centre for Research-based Innovation (SFI) - Foods of Norway. The faculty is responsible for bachelor- and master programmes in Biology, Animal Sciences and Plant Sciences, and international master programmes in Agroecology, Plant Sciences, Aquaculture, Animal Breeding Genetics and Feed Manufacturing Technology. PhD programmes include Animal Science and Aquaculture, and Plant Sciences. The faculty employs approximately 240 scientists, technicians, and administrative personnel. Around 480 bachelor and master students and 90 PhD students are enrolled in educational programmes within the faculty, offering a stimulating and supportive learning environment.

IHA provides fundamental, innovative research and practical solutions to improve productivity and sustainability across the agriculture and aquaculture sector. The Department represents the sciences for the future within the animal husbandry fields of breeding, nutrition and ethology.

The available position will be placed within the Ruminant Nutrition and Physiology and CIGENE Research Groups in close collaboration with the Protein Engineering and Enzymology (PEP) and Biostatistic groups at the Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science (KBM). The studies will be carried out in both experimental animal facilities and molecular laboratories, in collaboration with national and international institutions.

Research project:

Efficient and environmentally sustainable practices are required to en-sure long-term expansion and security of the cattle agricultural sector. Genetics, diet and the actions of the rumen microbiome are well known to influence the host animal’s phenotype and key performance metrics, such as feed conversion ratio (FCR) and methane production.

However, our ability to modulate the primary functions of the microbiome and elucidate connections that exist between dietary components and microbial and host metabolism is severely restricted. This is due to the underlying complexity of interpreting the metabolic activity of 100’s of different microbial populations simultaneously, and in combination with the hosts own metabolic processes, which is a challenge that has historically been “out of bounds” both technically and economically. Today's molecular toolkits now make it feasible to create 1000’s of rumen microbial genomes and disentangle extremely complex inter-actions between feed, the “gut microbiome”, and host genetics.

This project will examine the interplay between rumen microbiome function and host phenotype, as well as the overarching influences exerted by host genetics. It will build on the latest advances in analy-tical techniques to extract explicit information into feed components, FCR and methane levels, and use bio-informatics and computational biology to vastly expand the level of insight gained from state-of-the-art multi-omic datasets. It will go beyond standard omic-style analyses and integrate metadata, meta-genomic and proteomic layers in one collective analytical effort, and will additionally endeavor to include all keystone rumen microbial genomes from bacterial, archaeal, viral and eukaryotic (fungi and protozoa) origins.

Joint network analysis of expression data from both active gut microbiota and host tissue will identify key correlations between particular microbial populations and host metabolism, in particular for animals that exhibit varying FCR and methane levels.

Finally, it will identify keystone microbial populations associated with host phenotypes and genetic variance, so as to categorize favorable host genome signatures with inherently beneficial microbiota. Taken together, it aims to integrate meta-data and multi-omics to describe the interplay between feed, host animal and its associated microbiota.

Main tasks

  • To decipher how the cow genome, the rumen microbial (meta) genomes and their inherent metabolic processes are holistically connected
  • To investigate if selection for high milk yield or resistance against mastitis in Norwegian Red cattle has an influence on rumen microbiota and methane emissions

Secondary tasks

  • Generation of metadata and metagenomic datasets that are representative of Norwegian Red cattle and their rumen microbiomes
  • Functional meta-omic characterisation of rumen microbiota using genome-resolved quantitative metaproteomics
  • Identification and characterization of heritable microbiota that are correlated to improved milk production, animal health and methane emissions

The successful candidate is expected to enter a plan for the progress of the work towards a PhD degree during the first months of the appointment, with a view to completing a doctorate within the PhD scholarship period.

Qualifications and skills

The successful applicant must meet the conditions defined for admission to a PhD programme at NMBU. The applicant must have an academically relevant education corresponding to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are at master's degree level. The applicant must have a documented strong academic background from previous studies and be able to document proficiency in both written and oral English. For more detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations and the relevant PhD programme description.

The applicant must document expertise and interest in the research.

Required academic qualifications

Master’s degree in bioinformatics or biotechnology. Other master’s degrees (or equivalent) with relevant profile can be considered

The candidate shall be highly experienced in:

  • Commonly used DNA extraction, DNA sequencing, metagenomic assembly and metagenomic binning methods
  • Commonly used protein extraction, protein purification and metaproteomic data generation.
  • Bioinformatic analysis of DNA and peptide data, ability to process large metaproteomic datasets
  • Molecular laboratory and/or animal experimental work. Affinity for both wet- and dry-lab work is essential, in particular techniques associated with metaproteomic and bioinformatics analyses.

Applicants must be proficient in English, both written and spoken. Writing of scientific papers requires good knowledge of the English language.

Desired personal skills

  • Curiosity and high motivation for research
  • Accuracy and patience with experimental work
  • Strong communication skills, both written and oral
  • Analytical skills
  • Interest and ability to work as a creative member of our research group

Remuneration and information

The position is placed in government pay scale position code 1017 PhD fellow, wage framework 20 (salary grade 51-62). PhD fellows are normally placed in salary grade 51 (NOK 449 400) on the Norwegian Government salary scale upon employment and follow ordinary meriting regulations.

Employment is conducted according to national guidelines for University and Technical College PhD scholars.

For further information, please contact:

  • Phil B. Pope (Associate Professor) by e-mail: [email protected]; or by phone: +47 67 23 25 40

Information to applicants


To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply for this job' button above. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Applications should include (electronically) a letter of intent, curriculum vitae, list of publications (if any), copy of Master thesis, copies of degree certificates and transcripts of academic records (all certified), and a list of two persons who may act as references (with phone numbers and e-mail addresses). Publications should be included electronically within the application deadline.

Application deadline: May 24th 2019

Printed material which cannot be sent electronically should be sent by surface mail to Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, P.O. Box 5003, NO-1432 Ås, within 24.05.2019. Please quote reference number 19/02358.

If it is difficult to judge the applicant’s contribution for publications with multiple authors, a short description of the applicant’s contribution must be included.

The relevant NMBU Department may require further documentation, e.g. proof of English proficiency.

Apply for position