PhD candidate in Fungal Cell and Fungal Network Biology (VU) (Vacancy closed)


Are you looking for a PhD position at the intersection between mycology, fluorescence microscopy and technology development? Do you enjoy developing new methods and to perform quantitative biology and data analysis? The Kokkoris group (A-LIFE, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands) is accepting applications for a 4 years fully-funded PhD position. Applicants must have a basic understanding of fungal biology and must be experienced with fungal cultivation, basic microscopy, data analysis and programming (e.g., R, Python or/and MATLAB). The PhD position will ideally start January 2024.

Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 0.8 - 1


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) form one of the most widespread terrestrial symbiosis on earth with the roots of host plants, known broadly as the mycorrhizal symbiosis. AMF can connect with one another and with multiple plants, forming large underground common mycorrhizal networks where carbon and nutrients are exchanged. In contrast to most organisms where a single cell carries a single nucleus, a single AMF cell holds thousands of nuclei. This mysterious multinucleate biology has generated open questions in evolutionary biology. Recent discoveries demonstrate the existence of a carefully regulated genetic system in AMF, but we still do not know how these numerous nuclei can be organized with such precision in these large interconnected cells and how compatible or competitive interconnected strains affect the fitness of their plant hosts. By intergrading advanced microscopy techniques, high throughput imaging and video, molecular tagging and large scale greenhouse experiments we will achieve a quantitative understanding of these nuclear interactions across scales.

Your duties

  • method development for immunofluorescence
  • modelling of the hyphal network organization of interconnected strains
  • perform large scale greenhouse experiments to examine how fungal strain connectivity or incompatibility affects plant response
  • method development for AMF genetic transformation
  • communicate your research in local and international conferences
  • write a dissertation leading to a PhD degree towards the end of the 4-year project


  • you have MSc or equivalent degree in Microbiology, Molecular biology or a related field, with a strong interest in microscopy and data analysis
  • imaging analysis and programming software knowledge such as R studio/Python/MATLAB
  • excellent ability to communicate in both written and spoken English
  • experience with in-vitro culturing of fungi is necessary
  • experience with microscopy techniques (e.g., preferably use of confocal microscopy) and/or with genetic transformation techniques is necessary


A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,770 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,539 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • child daycare facilities available on campus
  • contribution to commuting expenses



The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 31,000 students. We employ over 5,000 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
Working at the Faculty of Science means working together with students, PhD candidates and scientists who are focused on their discipline, yet also have a broad view of the world. We are proud of the collegial working environment within the faculty, which is characterised by an ambitious and pragmatic attitude with commitment to the bigger picture. At the Faculty of Science, scientists and students work on fundamental and complex social issues for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, from genetics to pharmaceuticals and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research cover the full breadth of the natural sciences. Scientific teaching and research is highly experimental, technical, computational and interdisciplinary in nature. This is why we collaborate extensively with leading research institutes and industry. The faculty has over 11,000 students studying across 40 educational programmes and employs over 1,600 staff spread over 10 scientific departments, making us the largest science faculty in the Netherlands.

About the department, institute, project
The sub-department A-LIFE / Ecology and Evolution offers a stimulating international research environment with world-class academic reputation, and excellent state-of-the-art facilities. Research in the department covers a wide range of fundamental and applied research topics, including stress ecology, species interactions, evolutionary adaptation, symbiotic interactions, climate change and ecosystem functioning. Our strength lies in the ability to integrate studies of adaptive changes across the entire range of biological organizational levels.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button on the website and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 01/11/2023. The job interviews are planned for the second or third week of November, when possible please take them into account when applying for the position.

Submitting a diploma and a reference check are part of the application process.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. V. Kokkoris
Position: Assistant Professor