Junior Research Scientist in ecology of microbial interactions in communities of small wild mammals


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INRAE presentation

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.

INRAE is recruiting researchers by open competition and offering permanent position.

It is a major player in research and innovation created on 1st of January 2020. INRAE is a research institute resulting from the merger of INRA and IRSTEA. 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.

Work environment, missions and activities

You will develop your research at the Centre of Biology for Population Management (CBGP). The scientific project of this joint research unit is to characterize biodiversity patterns on multiple scales (from gene networks to species communities) and to analyse their ecological and evolutionary determinants. You will integrate the "Ecology and Evolution of Zoonoses" theme, which focuses on infectious diseases of which the vectors or reservoirs are wildlife, especially small mammals. We develop approaches in community ecology, molecular epidemiology, population genomics, adaptation genomics, and eco-immunology, to improve understanding of the eco-evolutionary mechanisms that lead to the emergence of zoonoses in human populations. This research also aims to identify and characterize the ecosystems that are favourable to emergence phenomena and to develop predictive models and risk analyses thus providing decision-making tools in terms of public health policies.
Pathogens interact and evolve within diverse commensal and pathogenic microbial communities, in populations and host communities but also on an intra-host scale. These interactions can strongly influence the distribution and severity of diseases, as well as the epidemiological and evolutionary dynamics of infectious agents. It is therefore essential to take these interactions into account when analyzing the risks of zoonotic disease emergence. In this context, your research will aim to analyse the influence of biotic interactions (parasite/parasite; microbiome/parasite) on the circulation of pathogens within natural populations of small mammals. It will be carried out in the context of zoonoses related to wildlife, and potentially coupled with invasion and conservation biology. You will thus provide the knowledge necessary for a better understanding of the relationships between biodiversity and health.
In particular, you will look for useful indicators to establish strategies for the prevention or management of zoonoses in an "EcoHealth" approach. Your activities will focus on the ecology of microbial interactions. You will be in charge of the description and analysis of microbial communities in natural populations of small mammals. Your research will rely on sampling activities (with the support of a research technician) and the application of molecular and bioinformatic methods (with the support of a research engineer) to identify and even quantify microbial agents in different biological samples. You will develop modelling approaches at the interface between community ecology and epidemiology to analyse the structure of these microbial communities, in particular through network analyses, and identify the factors/mechanisms that shape these networks on different spatio-temporal scales.
In the medium term, your research will be part of a predictive ecology approach aiming to provide elements of recommendation in terms of management of infectious agents in wildlife. You will develop models aimed at testing the stability/resilience of these communities and their interactions in the face of various disturbances such as changes in the biodiversity of a community of small mammals or abiotic changes (e.g. landscape changes, pollution). Your research may also help identify the small mammal species most likely to constitute reservoirs of future emerging zoonoses and which should therefore be the subject of special monitoring.

Part of the molecular biology analyzes will take place in a L2 containment level laboratory

Training and skills

PhD or equivalent

Candidates must have a PhD or equivalent.
A specialization in microbial community ecology would be desirable with a strong interest in applied mathematics. Modelling skills in microbial community ecology and epidemiology, network analysis, as well as experience in the analysis of metagenomic data would be appreciated.
Candidates should have a good command of English, and long-term international experience would also be desirable. Successful candidates who have not yet acquired this experience abroad will be required to do so after their probationary period (1st year).

INRAE's life quality

By joining our teams, you benefit from:

- 30 days of annual leave + 15 days "Reduction of Working Time" (for a full time);
- parenting support: CESU childcare, leisure services;
- skills development systems: training, career advise;
- social support: advice and listening, social assistance and loans;
- holiday and leisure services: holiday vouchers, accommodation at preferential rates;
sports and cultural activities;
- collective catering.

Offer reference

  • Profile number: CR-2021-ECODIV-2
  • Corps: CRCN
  • Category: A
  • Open competition number: 16

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