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PhD in molecular genetics to study the impact of gut microbiota on host behavior and physiology

Posted by , on 6 March 2019

Closing Date: 15 March 2021

Research Group Julien Royet: “Host pathogen interactions in the Drosophila model

IBDM (UMR CNRS 7288) • Parc Scientifique de Luminy • 13288 Marseille Cedex 9 • France

A PhD position is available at the Institute of Developmental Biology of Marseille (IBDM) for a motivated student to work on a research project investigating the genetic basis of host-bacteria interactions in the Drosophila model. This is a full-time position for 3 years. The candidate must be free to start in September/October 2019.


It is now very well established that gut-associated bacteria can impact the behavior and the physiology of their eukaryotic host. The PhD thesis project is aimed at using the powerful genetic tools available in the Drosophila model and the relative simplicity of its gut microbiota to study, at the molecular level, the molecular dialog between the microbiota and its host. In two recent publications, (Kurz et al, Elife, 2017: Charroux et al, Cell Host Microbe, 2018), the lab has shown that a metabolite produced by gut-associated bacteria, called peptidoglycan, can cross the gut epithelium and reach the insect blood where it interferes with various organs (fat body, ovaries, brain…) and modifies functions (behavior changes, organ wasting…). The PhD student will use the newest genome editing technologies (Crispr…), genetic tools and latest imaging microscopy technics to dissect the precise cellular and molecular mechanisms of the dialog that exist between gut-resident bacteria and some specific cells of the host. Recent results showing that mice deficient in peptidoglycan-sensing proteins exhibit social behavioral alterations suggest that the mechanisms that we study in Drosophila also exist in mammals. The research will be performed in the Institute of Developmental Biology of Marseille, an internationally recognised interdisciplinary research center and a very stimulating scientific environment (

Profile of the candidate 

We look for an enthusiastic and ambitious student with a strong interest in the genetics of host-bacteria interactions. The candidate is expected to have a background in molecular biology and should hold a Master Degree in Bioscience Engineering, Biotechnology or Biology. The candidate should have a level of proficiency in English which is sufficient to communicate effectively with colleagues.


Application documents should include a motivation letter, a curriculum vitae and a grade transcript. Additionally, the applicant is expected to arrange for two letters of recommendation to be sent to the address below. The application deadline is May 1th, 2019. Applications should be sent electronically as one single file in pdf format to, and


Kurz et al, 2017. Peptidoglycan sensing by octopaminergic neurons modulates Drosophila oviposition. Elife. Mar 7;6. pii: e21937.

Charroux et al, 2018. Local and systemic immune responses to microbiota are respectively controlled by cytosolic and secreted peptidoglycan degrading enzymes in Drosophila.  Cell Host and Microbe. Feb 14;23(2):215-228

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