Reseach Assistant to evaluate the role of soil fungal diversity in preserving functionality in Iberian beech forests under contrasting climate change scenarios


The Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), offers a 13-month full time research assistant position.

Current climate change scenario, with continuously rising temperature and more frequent and severe drought episodes severely threatens the maintenance of forests at the rear end of their climatic distribution limit. Symbiotic associations between tree roots and ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM) can contribute to maintain forest functionality by enhancing root uptake of water and nutrients. In this project, funded by the regional Basque Government, we aim to quantify the functional role of ECM in beech forests in northern Spain, where this species finds its driest distribution limit. To this end, we will combine an empirical and experimental characterization of the ECM community in the field, under contrasting climatic conditions, using molecular and isotopic techniques, together with an experiment under controlled conditions, where we will quantify the functional importance of ECM fungi for nutrient and water uptake. In this project, we are seeking to employ a very motivated research assistant capable of performing laboratory and field work, methodical, responsible and fascinated with nature and the functioning of ecosystems.

The research assistant will be physically located in Leioa (Bizkaia) at the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3). The research assistant will work under the direct supervison of Dr Teresa E. Gimeno with the co-supervsion of Dr. David Moreno Mateos and in close collaboration with one PhD and two MSc. Students. The research assistant is expected to abide to rules of conduct and ethics imposed by the host insitution (the BC3).


Among other tasks, the research assistant will be responsible for (and not limited to):

  •  Implement a glasshouse experiment, including:
    • Regular watering and control of climatic conditions
    • Preparation of soil media
    • Incubation of seeds and saplings
    • Aboveground morphological measurements (leaf area, height and collar diameter)
    • Preparing nutrient solution with and without isotopic marc
    • Destructive harvests
    • Root washing and belowground morphological measurements and scanning.
    • Identification of root tips under the binocular lens
  • Collection and processing of soil and wood samples in the field, including:
    • Wood core extraction and branch collection
    • Collection of soil cores
    • Monitoring of hyphal growth
    • Root washing, morphological measurements and identification of root tips under the binocular lens
  • DNA extraction of soil samples.
  • Perform cryogenic water extractions of soil and wood samples for isotopic analyses.
  • Extraction, processing, dating and measurement of wood cores.
  • Data compilation.

Experience/skills required: the applicant should hold a professional training degree (“FP grado medio” or equivalent) in environmental sciences, laboratory management, biology or any related field. Candidates holding a BSc. Degree (“Grado” or equivalent) in environmental sciences and/or biology are very encouraged to apply. The applicant should hold a valid driving permit (EU type B or equivalent). The applicant should be fit to perform field work under harsh conditions (irregular terrains, hot and cold temperatures and substantial rain). The applicant should not suffer from any particular condition that would prevent him/her from working in the laboratory manipulating hazardous substances. Applicants should be fluent in English, have excellent interpersonal skills and demonstrated ability to work in a team.

Other experience/skills valued: previous experience in organizing and supporting glasshouse and field experiment is very desirable. The ability to understand and communicate in French is not required but would be desirable. Database management and fluency in the language computing R will be positively evaluated.


Term of contract

The position will be for a period of 13 months.


Gross yearly salary is 14850 EUR.


Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Biscay (Spain).

As a HR Excellence awarded institution, BC3 is committed to conciliate research-academic requirements and family duties. BC3 is particularly concerned with creating equality opportunities for women and men. Women with relevant qualifications are therefore strongly encouraged to apply for the position.

Those interested should send their application (CV, one page motivation letter and names, telephone number and email addresses of two personal references) to noting in the subject of the message “Research assistant: beech forests project”. Any queries related to the nature of this position can be made to Dr. Teresa E. Gimeno (Teresa.gimeno@bc3research).


13 February 2020

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María de Maeztu Excellence Unit 2023-2027 Ref. CEX2021-001201-M, funded by MCIN/AEI /10.13039/501100011033

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