The Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology is a research institute of the Max Planck Society. It was founded in 1992 in the State of Bremen and employs around 200 staff members. In close collaboration with numerous university and non-university research institutions, we explore the diversity and function of microorganisms in the ocean and their interactions with their environment. Scientists from all over the world, engineers, technicians and administrative staff together make an important contribution to global marine and environmental research.

We seek to fill a

PhD position

as part of the DFG-funded research unit "The Dynamic Deep Subsurface of High-Energy Beaches (DynaDeep)" within the Biogeochemistry Department at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology.

Subterranean estuaries are hidden connective zones between inland aquifers and the open sea where freshwater and seawater mix and undergo major biogeochemical changes. Hence, they are considered powerful biogeochemical reactors that affect the fluxes of elements to the sea. So far, however, the subterranean estuaries that occur within the deep subsurface of high-energy beaches are largely unexplored. As part of a DFG-funded research unit "The Dynamic Deep Subsurface of High-Energy Beaches (DynaDeep)", this PhD project will focus on the microbially mediated reactions that occur in the anoxic sediments of subterranean estuaries. The student will focus on identifying and quantifying rates of respiratory processes that occur in the deep surface of the beach on Spiekeroog Island Germany. They will determine rates of oxic respiration, nitrification, denitrification, methane cycling, metal oxide and sulphate reduction at high spatial resolution over depth, under conditions that mimic the in situ characteristics. The aim of the project is to link rates of these processes to heterogeneity in organic matter and trace metal distributions, as well as to the identity and functional capacity of the microbial community. The PhD project has a strong field work component, with regular sampling campaigns to the Subterranean Estuary Online Observatory that is being established on Spiekeroog as part of Dynadeep. Field observations will be combined with laboratory work, in which experiments will be carried out in flow-through reactors, using a combination of stable isotope labeling and molecular techniques.

The student will be enrolled in the International Max Planck Research School of Marine Microbiology graduate programme (MarMic) and will also be fully integrated into the Dynadeep Research Unit, which is a collaborative project of the University of Oldenburg (IBU and Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment, ICBM) and the Alfred-Wegener-Institute - Helmholtz centre for polar and marine research (AWI) in Bremerhaven, the Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology (MPI) in Bremen, the Leibniz-Institute for Applied Geophysics (LIAG) in Hannover, the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) in Hannover and the University of Kiel.

We offer a 3 year full-time appointment. The salary is according to the German system for public employees (E 13 TVöD 65 % ).
Applicants must have a good to excellent grades at MSc level, and a keen interest in marine sciences, preferably having studied a field such as Geoscience, Biological Sciences, Environmental Science or Microbiology. Willingness to participate in regular field trips is a must, and basic laboratory experience would also be beneficial. Students are required to provide evidence of their proficiency in English language skills.

The Max Planck Society is committed to employing more disabled individuals and especially encourages them to apply. The Max Planck Society strives for gender and diversity equality.

Are you interested?

The deadline is 28.05.21. Applications for this position will only be accepted via our online application portal. Informal enquiries about the project can be addressed by email to Dr. Hannah Marchant (
For further information see:

We are looking forward to your application!

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