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Project title:  Postdoc position in bivalve and crustacean physiology / nutrition / neuroendocrinology

Subject area

Molecular Biology / Metagenomics / Biochemistry / Physiology


Bivalve, crustacean, neuroendocrine function, microbial relationships, vitamins, metabolomics, proteomics

Job description

We are seeking a candidate for a postdoc position, duration 17 months, to work in the general area of bivalve physiology and neuroendocrinology. Several possible tangents can be pursued depending on the interests of the candidate and their background/skills.

The first possible angle could be in trace mineral / vitamin metabolic pathways in key commercial species of bivalve mollusks. As in human nutrition, vitamins and minerals are needed by mollusks and crustaceans for growth and survival. Relative to macronutrients, these micronutrients are required in scant amounts relative to gross intake, but are crucial for key metabolic processes. In livestock and finfish aquaculture production, micronutrient requirements for both vitamins and minerals are largely known, thus allowing for feed formulations designed to optimize production values based on known nutrient compositions. Key vitamin and mineral requirements for many mollusk and crustacean species are not comparatively well researched, despite the significant impact of micronutrients on metabolic activity, growth and survival, especially during early development stages. Thus, we propose a series of experiments working directly with vitamin B12, taurine and zinc metabolism in key commercial mollusk and crustacean species.

A second focus of the position, with the same funded project, could be on neuroendocrinology of bivalve mollusks. Surprisingly little is also known about the nature of neuroendocrine function in mollusks, despite the fact that many neuroendocrine compounds, including serotonin, catecholamines and estrogenic compounds that regulate reproduction in humans are also found in bivalve mollusks. Catecholamines such as epinephrine are routinely used in aquaculture hatcheries to induce metamorphosis in many bivalve mollusk species, but little is known about the pathways of action or the hormonal events preceding this stage of development, including gametogenesis and spawning.

Neurohormones regulate the physiology in all higher eukaryotes, but in recent years, anthropogenic sources of endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in the marine environment from wastewater discharge, industrial contaminants and agriculture have become serious concerns as they disrupt reproductive physiology in a wide range of marine organisms. As mollusks are key species in marine ecosystems, large-scale breeding failures due to pollutants have cascading effects on marine ecosystems.

Although mammalian and fish sex hormones have been comparatively well-studied, the role of hormones in mollusks is an emerging field, where recent breakthroughs in genetic and molecular techniques offer the potential for exciting new discoveries. The aquaculture industry for instance is very interested in gaining a better understanding of bivalve endocrinology in order to predict, or even control, the sex ratio of breeding populations, as increasing egg production or the ability to select for sex can greatly improve productivity. A better knowledge of hormonal pathways in mollusks, for instance, can provide hatcheries with better control over the timing of sexual maturation, help synchronize fertilization or improve survival during metamorphosis.

The position could involve work with key species of commercial mollusks to:

  • The role of specific EDCs and their interference with functioning of the reproductive system, such as abnormal gonad structure and differentiation, intersexuality and sex reversal;
  • Chemical and physical methods for inducing synchronized female gonad development and egg release based on specific endogenous compounds known to be associated with female gamete maturation in other invertebrate species;
  • Neurohormonal pathways controlling settlement and metamorphosis to aid in selective breeding and hatchery production of larval cohorts.

Key qualifications

We are seeking a candidate who is independent and self-motivated. At minimum, the candidate must possess an PhD in molecular biology, cell biology, physiology or related disciplines. Prior background in commercial bivalve aquaculture, including conditioning and feed production, as well as experimental work in bivalve physiology, fish nutrition / eco-toxicology or neuroendocrinology is desirable. Experience in one or several of the following methodologies will be advantageous: histology, light and epifluorescence microscopy, molecular biology (PCR, cloning, quantitative PCR, RNAseq, microbiome analysis), proteomics, genomics, bioinformatics, biochemistry, analytical chemistry (including chromatography techniques such as HPLC / GC), flow cytometry. Further experience may include confocal, multi-photon, super-resolution and/or electron microscopy. Knowledge with immunohistochemistry or immunocytochemistry is also relevant, as is cell culture work (primary and cell lines) and other cell signaling/cell biological techniques. It is not a requirement that the candidate has prior experience in aquaculture, but it would be advantageous to have skills such as technical operation of multiphase bioreactors and/or aquaculture or aquaria systems. Experience with diverse techniques in microbiology, molecular biology, bioanalytical assays and working with other microorganisms (e.g. fungi, cyanobacteria, viruses) are considered merits.

The details of the project can be adjusted based on the candidate’s skills and interests. The position can also allow for a combination of research (85%) with (if desired) dissemination and management activities (15%).  Under such conditions, the successful candidate would need to develop their own research directions and conduct their own experimental/research work while also supporting the Principal Investigator with the overall configuration of the project, which would include tasks such as: (i) managing web content (writing/designing/ updating web pages); web and film video/film editing; (ii) creating clear, compelling informed written and verbal communications, including reports; (iii) assisting other staff within the research team to organize workshops and project meetings and communicate research outcomes through various dissemination channels. Exact job description can be negotiated prior to the start date based on the candidate’s skills and interests.

Personal qualifications

The position is based at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The position also involves frequent international travel as the work is being conducting with several international laboratories and industry partners. The candidate will be responsible for running applied experiments in several different labs (Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia) thus requiring flexibility for extended stays in various locations as well as frequent international travel to participate in meetings, working groups, conferences and visits with industry partners. The candidate must therefore demonstrate a willingness and ability to work for extended periods in different countries. The candidate will also help host visiting researchers from these foreign labs in Sweden. Candidates without any prior international work/study experience will not be considered.

Excellent communication skills (written and spoken) in English are necessary, but the candidate does not need Swedish or EU citizenship, as residence permits will be arranged for the successful candidate.

Application procedure

In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you must register an account in our online recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline.

The application must include:

  • A CV and cover letter that describes how the applicant meets the selection criteria
  • Evidence of strong academic writing skills (please provide 3 first author peer-reviewed manuscripts, any reports, and a copy of the PhD thesis)
  • Name and contact details of three referees attached in a file entitled References your name.pdf

If the following items are not evident on the CV, please state clearly in the cover letter how you meet the following requirements:

  • Proof of research and scientific writing skills with at minimum 3 published articles as first author in a peer-reviewed journal (please also highlight any technical reports written). Full-text of three articles and PhD thesis must be provided with the application;
  • Willingness to travel internationally for research, conferences and other project meetings;
  • Demonstrated statistical skills, including software such as R.

Regulations for the evaluation of qualifications for academic positions are given in Chapter 4, Section 3 - 4 of the Higher Education Ordinance.

Employment terms

First day of employment: By agreement

The exact start date for this position is negotiable depending on the availability of a suitable candidate. The fellow will be hired for an initial one-year period to lead this project with the possibility for renewal. You will have a full spectrum of vacation and travel benefits, as well as coverage from national health and business travel insurance.

Contact information

For further information about the position, please contact Alyssa Joyce:

Closing date of position:  October 31, 2021


In connection to this recruitment, we have already decided which recruitment channels we should use. We therefore decline further contact with vendors, recruitment and staffing companies.

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