The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (INRAE) is a public research establishment under the dual authority of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Research. It is a community of 12,000 people with more than 200 research units and 42 experimental units located throughout France.
The institute is among the world leaders in agricultural and food sciences, in plant and animal sciences, and is 11th in the world in ecology and environment. INRAE’s main goal is to be a key player in the transitions necessary to address major global challenges. In the face of the increase in population, climate change, scarcity of resources and decline in biodiversity, the institute develops solutions for multiperformance agriculture, high quality food and sustainable management of resources and ecosystems.
The objectives of the research of this position fall within the scientific priorities of INRAE 2030 (SP 1.2. Biodiversity: a powerful tool and a valuable inheritance, SP 4.2. Pollution, contaminants, and the exposome, and SP 5.1. Complex and mutable systems). The aim of the research considered is to increase understanding and predictive capabilities regarding planktonic diversity, algal growth in lakes, and factors determining the development of potentially toxic algal blooms, as well as their consequences on water quality (habit and resource) and biodiversity in a changing environmental context.
The project will draw on the use of innovative biological techniques (combination of molecular methods in metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, and single-cell analysis).
Through studying how the microbiome affects the dynamics of micro-algae, the project will offer theoretical and empirical advances on the functional role of microbial biodiversity and the biotic mechanisms involved in the response of aquatic ecosystems to anthropic and climatic changes (INRAE2030 SP 1.1 Climate change: mitigation and adaptation strategies). The project focuses on a field in which the stakes are high ultimately to improve understanding of the links between biodiversity and primary production and better predict the proliferation of micro-algae and the related risks (potential toxicity, etc.). This position will help satisfy, in part, the need with regards to teaching biology and ecology at the USMB.
The mechanisms involved in the dynamics and proliferation of algae (including harmful/toxic algae) are still totally unknown, too often with contradictory results and uncertain predictions concerning the risk of development of algal blooms. A potentially important cause of variability in some results and predictions resides in the micro-scale interactions between the micro-algae and their bacterial microbiomes. This can affect ecosystem functioning and biogeochemical cycles through the exchange of metabolites and complex ecological processes (Ahern et. al. 2021). Incorporating the microbiota of micro-algae was very recently recognised as a key factor in understanding algal dynamics (Pound et. al. 2021).
In this context, the objectives of this project will be to (i) clarify the links between microbial diversity and phytoplankton composition-production, (ii) study more particularly the microbial consortiums associated with the proliferation of algae to reveal the composition and function of free-living bacterioplankton or bound to micro-algae, (iii) explore the existence of potential phylosymbiosis between bacteria and micro-algae which could enrich the metabolic repository of some algal species (e.g. by encoding the biosynthesis of complementary carotenoid molecules, Perrez-Carrascal et. al. 2021), and (iv) study to what extent these mutual interactions provide explanations regarding the prevalence of certain species (blooms) and the resilience of algal assemblages in response to environmental stresses.
Field (in lakes) and experimental methods will be implemented and the tools used will include methods of isolating cells (including microfluidics) combined with genomics, metatranscriptomics and metagenomics to investigate the functional potential of co-occurring organisms and their roles in the growth of micro-algae. Methods of analysis of secondary metabolites will also be used (metabolomics, ultra HPLC). Machine-learning methods will be used to detect recurrent patterns of assemblages that could reveal indicators (warning signs) associated with the development of micro-algae harmful to health.
The teaching project is established in partnership with the University of Savoie Mont Blanc (co-supervision of the Carrtel Joint Research Unit). The number of teaching hours will be equivalent to 28 hours of lectures or 48 hours of practicals or tutorials, or any combination equivalent to 48h/year for 3 years.
The ambition is to propose new courses in ecogenomics which will fall within the framework of modules proposed at Master's level (1 and 2), the doctoral training of the ED SIE, and to assist summer schools (CARRTEL regularly leads international summer schools in limnology and aquatic ecology).
The teaching will be in part conducted at INRAE in Thonon les bains (located on the shore of Lake Léman), which provides the perfect setting to immerse the students in aquatic ecology with access to samples from the lake and to open analytical and experimental resources within the framework of the OLA (Observatory on LAkes) infrastructure (experimentation and long-term monitoring of lakes). The 'biodiversity and ecogenomics' analysis platform at the Carrtel Joint Research Unit will be used for simulations with access to practical work which will be partially conducted in the form of mini projects.
These courses will promote ecological diagnoses based on omics tools (DNA and RNA) that are eagerly awaited in the field of aquatic biomonitoring.
Tenure-Track Junior Professor Chair is a new career route at INRAE. It enables the recruitment of scientists based on a research and teaching project that lasts three years. At the end of this period, and following an assessment of your scientific achievements and professional capabilities, you may obtain a full-tenure position as Research Director (DR2).
A research and teaching agreement will specify the path you will follow towards full-tenure and enable you to acquire the qualifications necessary to become a full-tenure Research Director in your field.
You have until June 14, 2022 to submit your application. Only candidates previously selected on file by the selection committee will be invited to the hearing.