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Postdoc position: “The role of Woeseiales bacteria in sediment nitrous oxide production”

  • 't Horntje, Texel, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Marine Microbiology & Biogeochemistry (MMB)

Job description

The Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) is looking for a highly motivated starting postdoctoral researcher with an expertise in microbiology, specializations in microbial physiology and molecular ecology and experience in metagenomics/bioinformatics. A strong interest in the ecological function of marine bacteria and the biogeochemical cycling of greenhouse house gases is desired. The position is offered for a period of 32 months.


NWO-NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research is the Dutch national oceanographic institute and principally performs academically excellent multidisciplinary, fundamental, and frontier applied marine research addressing important scientific and societal questions pertinent to the functioning of the ocean and seas. NIOZ includes the National Marine research Facilities (NMF) department that operates a fleet of research vessels and the national pool of large seagoing equipment, and supports excellence in multidisciplinary marine research, education, and policy development.


The research of the Department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (MMB) has a long history of studying all domains of microbial life (bacterial, archaeal, and eukaryotic), their interactions, and their role in biogeochemical cycling in a variety of marine environments, varying from coastal environments to the deep ocean and sediments. The department is equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories, bioinformatics resources and analytical equipment, and has an excellent level of technical support.


The denitrification process is a globally significant pathway in the microbial production of nitrous oxide (N2O). The production of this greenhouse gas by denitrifying microorganisms has long been assumed to result from metabolic imbalances between the production and consumption of N2O in “complete denitrifiers” i.e., microorganisms performing the four steps of the denitrification process. Yet, other microorganisms lacking the ability to reduce N2O to N2 (i.e., “truncated denitrifiers”), produce N2O as one of the end-products of their metabolism. However, truncated denitrifiers are understudied and their contribution to net N2O emissions remains poorly understood, especially in marine environments. Members of the order Woeseiales, a recently recognized group of Gammaproteobacteria, have been implicated as potential drivers of N2O production in sediments of the Wadden Sea, and preliminary analyses of Woeseiales genomes and microbial cultures indicate members of this group are truncated denitrifiers. While these bacteria are abundant in marine sediments, their N2O production capabilities have not been evaluated, and the environmental factors that regulate their production of N2O have yet to be determined. The main goal of this project is to clarify environmental conditions under which members of Woeseiales produce N2O and quantify their N2O production capabilities.


The position is primarily based at NIOZ (Texel) and is due to start on October 1st 2024. You will determine the conditions under which cultures of truncated denitrifiers produce N2O, which will involve quantifying the production of N2O, the consumption of nutrients, the growth of the strains and assessing gene expression. You will conduct sediment microcosm experiments, in which, you will control the availability of electron acceptors and assess the growth and activity of denitrifying populations using molecular ecology approaches in combination with metagenomics. You will attempt isolating yet-uncultivated members of Woeseiales using innovative isolation technics and characterize their N2O production capabilities.

The MMB department is equipped with state-of-the-art microbiology and molecular ecology laboratories, cutting-edge analytical equipment, and bioinformatics resources and has an excellent level of technical support. You will work within a project team including several scientists working at NIOZ and Utrecht University and whose expertise range from microbiology to geochemistry, ecology, and cutting-edge analytical instrumentation. The selected candidate will also work with a PhD student whose project focuses on the role of marine Flavobacteria in sediment N2O consumption.

Job requirements


You must have completed a PhD degree in microbiology with a specialization in microbial physiology or microbial ecology. This position is more suitable for an entry-level postdoc. Furthermore, you meet at least several of the following criteria:

  • A passion for microorganisms targeted towards understanding their lifestyles, habitats, and ecological roles.
  • Experience in quantifying growth and activity of bacterial cultures, especially the growth and respiratory activity of denitrifying bacteria.
  • Experience in the isolation of novel microorganisms using e.g., targeted or high-throughput cultivation approaches.
  • Experience in designing and conducting sediment microcosm experiments and a familiarity with the molecular ecology toolbox.
  • Bioinformatic skills and experience in comparative genomics and metagenomics
  • An understanding of microbial respiratory systems and catabolic pathways
  • An interest in marine ecosystems and the nitrogen cycle
  • A love for multi-disciplinary work, problem-solving, and teamwork

NIOZ wants to be a transparent institute with a healthy working climate and an inclusive culture, where people from diverse backgrounds and gender bring their talents and further develop these talents. We aim for inclusive decision-making processes and expect our leadership to show visible commitment, awareness of bias, and cultural intelligence.


  • Employment of this full-time position at Royal NIOZ is by NWO-I for a duration of 32 months.
  • Salary compliant with CAO-WVOI  (Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Research Institutes) scale 10.
  • The freedom to fulfill your role and space and opportunities for your personal (talent) development with the help of the NIOZ Academy.
  • 338 annualized holiday hours for a full-time 40-hour work week.
  • Pension scheme via ABP, 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.33%.
  • Telephone allowance of €15 per month, prorated for your employment.
  • 2nd class public transportation travel is reimbursed 100%.
  • Employment benefits plan to exchange a portion of your salary for days off or vice versa, or can be used to purchase a bicycle with tax benefits.
  • We offer relocation expenses for employees coming from abroad and support with finding accommodation.


For additional information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Pierre Offre. For additional information about the procedure, please send an e-mail to

Closing date for this vacancy is July 7th 2024.