Postdoctoral Researcher – The Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)

Primary production by phytoplankton provides the basis of marine food webs and is strongly determined by nutrient and light availability. Measures taken to reduce the effects of eutrophication have mainly led to a reduction in phosphorus (P) inputs into coastal seas like the North Sea, whereas nitrogen (N) and silica (Si) loadings were much less reduced resulting in major shifts in nutrient ratios.

This may have resulted in changes in resources limitation for the phytoplankton and there is currently substantial disagreement on the role of nitrogen vs phosphorus vs light limitation in coastal waters. Furthermore, resource-mediated changes in phytoplankton stoichiometry can have major implications for their nutritional quality for zooplankton, with effects that may cascade throughout the entire aquatic food web. In the CHARLET project, we will determine the limiting factors that regulate the phytoplankton in the North Sea and how changes in these limiting factors affect the cellular composition, ecological stoichiometry and species composition of the plankton community. We will develop novel approaches to study in-situ resource limitation and implement the results of these studies in competition models describing phytoplankton growth in the North Sea. The project combines laboratory culture studies and field work in the North Sea.

Within the NIOZ project, we will investigate to what extent resource-mediated changes in cellular composition and community composition of phytoplankton affect the relative importance of viral lysis of phytoplankton communities, this in comparison to zooplankton grazing. A second main objective is to elucidate the influence of viral infection on the algal hosts stoichiometry.


Applicants must have a strong background in Aquatic Microbial Ecology. Ideally, the successful candidate for the position should have working experience in phytoplankton ecophysiology, virus ecology, flow cytometry, grazing experiments, phytoplankton culturing and sea-going research.

Conditions of employment

We offer: a full-time Postdoc position for 3 years, a pension scheme, a yearly 8% vacation allowance, year-end bonus 8,33 % and flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Employment Agreement of Research Institutes. NIOZ offers help with housing and has allowances for relocation and refurbishment cost etc.

Contract type


3 years


The Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)

The Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) is the leading research institute in the Netherlands for the basic marine sciences. Five departments (Physical Oceanography, Marine Geology, Marine Organic Biogeochemistry, Biological Oceanography and Marine Ecology) carry out the multidisciplinary research of the institute. Approximately 250 persons are currently appointed at the NIOZ. NIOZ has a large variety of instrumentation and is operating modernly equipped research vessels for coastal and ocean studies. The institute is located on the Wadden Island of Texel, close to the mainland.


Marine Organic Biogeochemistry

At the Department Biological Oceanography research focuses on the planktonic food web structure and dynamics comprising phytoplankton, prokaryotes, micro- and mesozooplankton and viruses. Within the ZKO-Noordzee project CHARLET – Primary Production in the North Sea: CHAnges in Resource Limitation and Energy Transfer.

The Marine Organic Biogeochemistry department studies the origin and fate of organic matter, both of natural and anthropogenic origin, in the marine environment at the molecular level. Common general research questions are:

  • Which organic compounds are present in the different compartments (biota, water, sediments) of the marine environment and what is their origin?
  • What is their biochemical role in marine organisms, or, in case of anthropogenic components, what are their toxic effects?
  • Which reactions (e.g. biotransformation and diagenesis) affect these components during transport in the marine environment? How are these reactions affected by environmental conditions and on which time scales?
  • What can be learned from organic matter deposited in marine sediments with respect to marine evolution, the functioning of past marine ecosystems, climate variability and organic carbon burial?

Additional information

Further information; on the project and the position can be obtained from Dr. Corina Brussaard (, +31-222-369513) or otherwise from Jolanda Evers, Human Resources (Email:, phone +31-222-369371). Please only use these email addresses for questions/information and not to send in your application.

Application deadline; October 1st 2010, or until a qualified candidate is identified.

To Apply: visit the website