PhD project offered by the IMPRS-gBGC in

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Project description

Scaling-up is a problem long known, not only in biotechnology, but also for the identification of natural processes. It comes especially true for systems, in which the activity of microorganisms leads to changes of geological impact, like the formation of superficial ore deposits. Here, the growth conditions in a pore volume may differ essentially from bulk water, and thus cementation and dissolution processes can be found that result in deposition of hydroxide or sulfide minerals which entrap metals that – at the final stages – reach exploitation relevant concentrations. The help of aerobic bacteria or fungi with precipitation can speed up the process with several orders of magnitude. Only if formation conditions are understood correctly on a molecular scale, (biogeo)technologically improved, fast formation of ore bodies may become manageable.
Since the metals to be deposited need to be transported into the system, a metal contamination resulting, e.g., from former mining activities, might become the basis of new ore deposits. In that case, a remediation of current water contamination may be associated with the formation of new ore bodies. On a time scale of decades, a mineable resource can be formed if the metals are (co)precipitated with iron or manganese hydroxides under oxic conditions. Specifically for rare earth elements, this may become a good source which helps making Germany independent from import.
The basis of this project is the investigation of biomineralization, biodissolution and bioconversion at a test field site in the former uranium mining area at Ronneburg, Thuringia, where ore formation processes may be investigated. The basic scientific question will be to gain understanding of processes required for the formation of superficial, sedimentary, metal enriched ore bodies.
The project will be within group of scientists from IMPRS consisting of geochemistry (Prof. Gleixner) and geology (Prof. Büchel) in co-supervision with Prof. Kothe and associated to other PhD projects investigating calcite precipitation and dissolution processes with relation to the global CO2 concentrations. Association to the Excellence Graduate “Jena School for Microbial Communication” will be possible.


Applications to the IMPRS-gBGC are open to well-motivated and highly-qualified students from all countries. Prerequisites for this PhD project are:
  • a Master degree in a discipline related to the environmental sciences, microbiology and molecular ecology, biogeochemistry or a related discipline 
  • basic knowledge in general & environmental microbiology, bacteria and fungi
  • experience with basic microbiology methods and molecular genetics tools, practical experience working with bacteria and/or fungi
  • ability to work both independently and as a part of an integrated team environment
  • very good expression in English (spoken and written)

After you have been selected

The IMPRS-gBGC office will happily assist you with your transition to Jena.
The conditions of employment, including upgrades and duration follow the rules of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science and those of the German civil service. The gross monthly income amounts about 2000 EUR, which will cover all your expenses in Germany.
The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply. The Max Planck society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals.

Study of fast formation of iron and manganese hydroxides during the practical course bio-geo interactions, 2013.
Study of fast formation of iron and manganese hydroxides during the practical course bio-geo interactions, 2013.

>> more information about the IMPRS-gBGC + application