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GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel

Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher (PhD) Position ESR9




Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher (PhD) Position ESR9 Intracellular mechanisms of calcification in bivalves Supervisor: Frank Melzner Our world is changing: our oceans are becoming warmer and more acidic. Understanding the consequences of this is one of the big science challenges of the 21st Century. The oceans of the planet are closely linked with human health and wellbeing, through their impact on climate and their socio-economic importance. This network will study how shells are produced and controlled in four of Europe’s most important commercial marine shellfish species. Recent evidence suggests that the amorphous precursor phase of CaCO3 (ACC) is of importance in mollusc calcification. However, nothing is known about the cellular transport processes that enable intravesicular concentration of calcium and inorganic carbon in marine bivalves, or about the interactions of calcification with cellular pH and ion homeostasis.  Within this project we will focus on the interaction between pH homeostasis and intravesicular ACC formation. Working with primary mantle cell cultures from oysters and mussels, as well as oyster hemocytes, we will use confocal laser scanning microscopy for microfluorometric measurement of pH and calcium in combination with inhibitors of ion transporters that have putative roles in pH homeostasis and ACC formation (see e.g. Stumpp et al. 2012 PNAS). This work will enable us to understand the interactions between pH regulation, ACC formation and exocytosis. In addition, we will use advanced electron microscopy techniques (e.g. high pressure freezing followed by freeze substitution, energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy) to study the cellular ultrastructure of mantle cells that are actively involved in biomineralization (summer experiments) vs. cells that are less active (winter experiments). This PhD position is part of the Marie Curie Initial Training Network entitled CACHE: Calcium in a Changing Environment, funded by the EU (ref: 605051) and co-ordinated by the British Antarctic Survey. The aim of this network is to take a co-ordinated multidisciplinary approach to understanding calcium regulation and shell production in four commercial bivalve species. The network comprises 10 partners from 6 European countries, including research institutes, universities and SMEs. As a member of the network, the student will be expected to work co-operatively within the network, participate in European training events and spend up to 30% of their training with another network partner. Full details of the network can be found at To apply for the position, please provide: (i) a letter of motivation including a maximum 1-page statement of your research interests, relevant skills and experience; (ii) a CV including publication list; and (iii) names and contact details of three referees willing to write confidential letters of recommendation.  All materials should be emailed as a single PDF file (<5 Mb) to: with 'PhD application ESR9' in the subject line. The application deadline is January 12th 2014 and interviews will take place shortly afterwards.  The preferred start date is flexible and will depend on the timeframe of the most qualified applicant.  For further information, please see or contact Frank Melzner via email with any informal inquiries. If you are interested in a second CACHE project, please list that in your application.  Any candidates short-listed, but not offered a PhD position with their first choice, will be have their candidature papers automatically transferred to their second choice project to be included in the sift for that post, if the vacancy is still open. Eligibility: Please note that this is an EU funded Marie Curie post and therefore certain eligibility criteria apply:

  • The applicant must be in the first four years (full time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and not yet have a doctoral degree. This is measured from the date when they obtained the degree which would formally entitle them to embark on a doctorate.
  • At the time of recruitment by the host organisation, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies etc) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the reference date.
  • The PhD candidates can be from any nationality, including non-EU.
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