Call for applications, MSc project on microbial community dynamics

Predicting microbial community dynamics in subsurface aquifer ecosystems

Microbial communities are dynamic ecosystems, constantly shifting in terms of diversity, structure and function, as a response to environmental fluctuations and to species interactions. However, we still lack a good understanding of how key functions of microbial ecosystem are maintained under such fluctuations. We are inviting applications from students interested in combining ecological models with sequence data from microbial DNA in aquifer systems to predict microbial community dynamics in fluctuating environmental conditions.

Aquifers are composed of groundwater flowing through particles and rocks, containing a vast diversity of microbial populations either living in the water, or attached to the rock surfaces. As water seeps from the surface (originating from rainfall or snowmelt), it brings new microbes and nutrients with it to the underground layers. Thus, aquifer ecosystems are faced with fluctuating water, nutrient, carbon and oxygen availability, and impacted by changing physico-chemical, geochemical and geological conditions. These fluctuations impact microbial community dynamics by shaping networks of microbial species interactions whether they are positive (mutualism), or negative (competition, predation, parasitism). The research will involve combining sequence data already obtained from microbial DNA in aquifer systems in Quebec with dynamic models of microbial species interactions including facilitation and competition for resources. The goal will be to predict dynamic relationships between aquifer microbial community structure and ecosystem functions under fluctuating environments.

The successful candidate will be co-supervised by prof. Cassandre Lazar (Université du Québec à Montréal) and prof. Frederic Guichard (McGill University) and benefit from a stimulating research and training environment at both institutions located downtown Montreal. We encourage applications at the MSc level but students interested in a PhD are also welcome to apply. We also encourage applications from candidate eligible for funding from major external fellowship programs.

Please submit you application including your CV, a statement of research interests, and the contact information of 3 references to:

Cassandre Lazar : lazar.cassandre@uqam.ca, and

Frédéric Gichard: fred.guichard@mcgill.ca

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