Junior research scientist in functional ecology of insect viromes


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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

The joint Research Unit DGIMI focuses on the interactions between lepidopteran crop pests and their biotic (their microbiota, their parasites, and their host plants) and abiotic environment, to strengthen our knowledge of natural regulations in agrosystems and identify the molecular mechanisms involved in these interactions with the environment. In this context, DGIMI has recently initiated a new theme, which aims to improve understanding of the role of viruses in the population dynamics of insect pests in agrosystems. From an operational perspective, our work contributes to the development of biocontrol strategies against crop pests using entomopathogenic agents. The role of viral communities in the functioning of agrosystems is an issue that has been gaining increasing attention internationally in recent years.
This topic is addressed in insects by the Dynamics of Densovirus-Insect Interactions (DIDI) team, which will host the position. The team has already developed metagenomic tools that have led to the characterization of new insect viromes, making DGIMI one of the national and international leaders in this field. Recent analyses have shown that the prevalence and diversity of viruses associated with insect pests present a seasonal dynamic (with periods of virus-specific abundance) suggesting epidemic phases could participate in the annual regulation of populations. They have also revealed the existence of frequent persistent viral infections whose role in the biology of the insect and its interactions with the plant remains to be explored. The profile is a continuation of this work aimed at understanding the functional role of viral communities in the population dynamics of insect pests in relation to environmental stresses. First and foremost, you will test if the adaptation of insect pests to biotic stresses (biocontrol agents) or abiotic stresses (thermal stress) depends on the viral communities associated with them. For this, you will use functional viral ecology approaches to identify viral communities associated with the response of natural lepidopteran populations raised in a laboratory to biotic (biocontrol agents) and thermal stresses. Using appropriate statistical analyses, you will then hypothesize the role of viral communities in insect population dynamics and the cycle of entomopathogenic agents. To validate the role of viral communities in the adaptation of insects to environmental stresses, you will experimentally test these hypotheses by reconstituting mixtures of viruses that you will reassociate with the insect, in combination with mechanistic studies (directed mutagenesis of viral genotypes).
To develop the project within the DIDI team, you will be able to draw on the internal skills of the unit and in particular an engineer specialising in the preparation of samples for metagenomics. You will benefit from all the data already acquired by the DIDI team, from the script developed for the analysis of metagenomic data (NearVANA), and from the collaboration on viral metagenomics between DGIMI and the PHIM Research Unit in Montpellier. From a practical point of view, you will be provided with equipment and a vehicle for insect sampling in the field, as well as an infrastructure for insect experimentation. You will have access to insect cell cultures, as well as the equipment necessary for the purification of viral particles and the Metagenomics platform (for the preparation of viral DNA using the VANA method) of the unit. Within DGIMI, you will be supported by a team of virologists studying insect-virus interactions from a mechanistic point of view (6 permanent staff, technicians, and scientists) and skills in bioinformatics and management of large data sets. You will benefit from the unit's strong expertise on different entomopathogenic agents (viruses, bacteria, nematodes, parasitoids) and insect immune responses. In addition to the DIDI team led by Anne-Sophie Gosselin-Grenet (Professor, University of Montpellier), you will integrate the transversal thematic theme "Microbiota" led by Sophie Gaudriault (senior scientist, INRAE). In the long term, your research activities will contribute to the Valorisation/Biocontrol working group of the unit.

Training and skills

PhD or equivalent

Candidates must have a PhD or equivalent.
Specialization in virology, experience in metagenomics, and expertise in bioinformatics and statistical data analysis would be desirable. Sound knowledge of insects or at least invertebrates would be an additional asset.
Candidates should have a good command of English (both written and spoken), 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.

For international scientists: please visit your guide to facilitate your arrival and stay at INRAE

Offer reference

  • Profile number: CR-2023-SPE-4
  • Corps: CRCN
  • Category: A
  • Open competition number: 31
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