Job announcement
Research Group Insect-Fungus Symbiosis, Zoology 3, University of Würzburg, Germany

PhD positions – Evolutionary Ecology of Ambrosia Beetles

Application deadline: 30.9.2017


Two 3-year PhD positions in “Evolutionary Ecology of Sociality and Fungiculture in Ambrosia Beetles”

We seek highly motivated biologists with a keen interest in the ecology and evolution of insect social behaviour and/or fungiculture to join our newly established research group at the University in Wuerzburg, Germany (

Description: Our main models are bark and ambrosia beetles (AB), which live in subsocial to eusocial societies within wood, where they cultivate fungi on walls of their tunnels. Both sociality and fungiculture evolved in several independent lineages under different ecological conditions, levels of relatedness and ploidy. They remained poorly studied although they are excellent models to test pending evolutionary questions.

Possible projects:

  • Is it possible to artificially select for/against sociality in AB?
  • How is division of labour regulated in AB societies?
  • How do AB supress pathogens and promote cultivars in their fungus gardens?
  • How does AB social evolution affect the evolution of fungiculture and vice versa?
  • What are the factors that repeatedly selected for obligate fungiculture in AB?

In our work we combine field studies with lab experiments and apply an interdisciplinary approach, combining selection experiments, experimental assays, and culturing methods with state-of-the-art molecular (e.g. qPCR, next-gen-sequencing) and biochemical (e.g. GC-MS) techniques.

We require:

  • MSc degree in (Forest) Entomology, Mycology, Evolutionary Biology, Chemical Ecology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology or Bioinformatics
  • Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the projects, successful candidates must be willing to become acquainted with methods from the fields above.
  • Experience working with insects or microbes.
  • Proficiency in English and a good team spirit are a must.
  • Knowledge on basic molecular methods, statistics (R skills), chemical ecology and bioinformatics are a plus.

 We offer:

  • An exciting research project to build on a scientific career.
  • A cooperative and highly ambitious young research group, as part of a vivid department.
  • Opportunities to visit collaborating labs worldwide.
  • Salary according to public service positions in Germany (TVL E13: 65%) for three years. The University of Würzburg is an equal opportunity employer, i.e. female scientists are particularly encouraged to apply and disabled applicants will be preferentially considered in case of equivalent aptitude.

The Host: We are one of a few labs in the world to study AB. For details on our projects see or directly contact Dr. Peter Biedermann (; +49(0)17699819095). The University of Würzburg offers tremendous expertise on social insect behaviour, evolution, chemical ecology and molecular ecology. Würzburg itself is a vivid student city in one of the most beautiful areas of Germany.

Application: Please submit the application (as a single pdf file including a letter of motivation, a short summary of research interests, a CV, certificates, and contacts of two potential referees) via e-mail to until September 30th 2017.

Dr. Peter H.W. Biedermann
DFG Emmy Noether Forschungsgruppenleiter
Department für Tierökologie & Tropenbiologie (Zoologie 3)
Julius Maximilian Universität Würzburg
Am Hubland 97074 Würzburg

© 18.08.2017 Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft e.V., DZG