The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is a top research institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). NIOO-KNAW focuses on fundamental and strategic research on individual organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems. The Department of Microbial Ecology offers a Postdoc position (Vacancy number 20-004 Microp ME-postdoc)


Project title: Walk on the wild side: impact of plant domestication on functional diversification of the rhizosphere microbiome


Project description: Plant roots house one of the most diverse microbial communities on Earth. The aim of the national Gravitation program MICROP is to harness the genomic potential of root microbes as a new platform for improved stress resilience of future crops and sustainable food production. Working with groups at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), Free University (VU), Utrecht University (UU), Wageningen University (WU) and The Netherlands Institute for Ecology (NIOO), you will: (1) investigate how wild and cultivated plant species, across the plant kingdom, recruit their microbial partners to cope with environmental stress and protect them against pathogens and insects, and (2) identify and harness microbiome functions to optimize future crop resilience and performance in a changing climate. In collaboration with partners around the world, fundamental knowledge will be obtained that will form the basis for a new era of microbiome-assisted crop production. The overall aim of the postdoc project at NIOO-KNAW is to determine the impact of plant domestication on the taxonomic and functional diversification of the root microbiome. We will search for microorganisms, microbial functions and corresponding traits in the plant that were lost during plant domestication and how these can be restored to optimize crop resilience and performance.


Job description:

  • Design and carry out experiments to unravel the impact of plant domestication on taxonomic and functional diversification of the root microbiome
  • Identify ‘missing’ plant microbes, their biosynthetic genes and functional traits
  • Participate in the network activities and core experiments of the Gravitation program
  • Present your work at (inter)national meetings and publish scientific articles
  • Supervise/collaborate with PhD students and postdocs in the Gravitation program


  • A PhD degree in microbe-plant interactions, (molecular) microbiology
  • Integrate and analyze microbiome and metagenome data
  • Demonstrable experience in microbiome data analyses, plant bioassays, statistical analysis
  • Experience in GWAS/QTL analyses and (bio)chemistry will be of added value
  • Willing to work at collaborating institutes abroad (e.g. South America) for several weeks/months per year
  • Language skills: fluency in English required, fluency in Spanish is welcome

Appointment: the Postdoc position will be hosted at NIOO-KNAW and works closely together with the other Microp teams at Universities in Amsterdam (UvA, VU), Utrecht and in Wageningen. The position is full-time (38 hours/week), initially for 1 year, and upon satisfactory performance to be prolonged to a maximum of 4 years total. The salary is based experience and will start from € 3.255,00 per month rising to € 4.274,00 per month for a full-time appointment according to scale 10 under the Collective Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO Nederlandse Universiteiten). This does not include 8% holiday pay and an end-of-year bonus. We also offer an extensive package of fringe benefits.


Starting date: September 2020.


Principal supervisors: Prof. dr. Jos M. Raaijmakers; Dr. Mark Zwart; Dr. Paolina Garbeva, Dept Microbial Ecology, NIOO-KNAW


Application: NIOO-KNAW wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background. Please send your application, in English, including complete curriculum vitae and names of three professional referees and vacancy number “ 20-004 Microp ME-postdoc” in the subject header to, and mention “ 20-004 Microp ME-postdoc” in the subject header.


Closing date for application: Monday 15 June 2020. Applications received later than this date will not be considered.


Information: General information about the Gravitation program Microp can be found at:

Specific information about the postdoc position can be obtained from Prof. dr. Jos M. Raaijmakers; Jos Raaijmakers;; +31 317-473497



Application deadline:
Start date:
Location: NIOO-KNAW, Wageningen, The Netherlands