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The Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) cordially invites applicants for the position of a PhD student investigating algae toxicity on fish, mussels and zooplankton.  The position in the Department of Fish Biology, Fisheries and Aquaculture (Müggelseedamm 310, Berlin) and Department of Plankton and Microbial Ecology (Lake Stechlin, 85 km north of Berlin), is available May 1st, 2023 or shortly thereafter and limited to three years. 

The work is carried out as part of a multidisciplinary project, comprising a series of sub-projects investigating the reasons and consequences of the environmental catastrophe in the Oder River of August 2022 (ODER-SO) funded by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). The collective scope of the full project is to monitor and analyze algal and pollutant loads, document the status and recovery of populations of multiple organism groups, carry out precautionary studies on potential future poisoning events, and investigate the ecological role of floodplains in multiple development scenarios. The overall aim of ODER-SO is to provide a broad knowledge-base for the integrative management of coupled river-floodplain ecosystems, enabling more precise analyses and forecasts of river status that can form the basis for preventive measures against the harmful effects of algal blooms

The subproject described here will study dose-dependent toxin effects of the haptophyte phytoplankton species Prymnesium parvum, isolated from the Oder River. This sub-project will be conducted in collaboration with a sub-project focusing on the determination of toxin production of P. parvum cultures under different growth conditions. The main aim of this sub-project is to determine the mode of action of the haptophyte, leading to its toxic effects, assess threshold values for P. parvum concentrations resulting in toxin effects on zooplankton, mussels, and early life stages of fish, including sturgeon, to better understand and forecast effects of harmful algal blooms in the Oder River. The work will be conducted in an international team, using well-equipped laboratories and the infrastructure of a leading institute in the field.

Your tasks

  • Set up and conduct laboratory experiments to study the toxic effects of specific strains of Prymnesium parvum on zooplankton (e.g. rotifers and copepods), mussels, and early life stages of fish, under different environmental conditions (nutrients, light, salinity, alternative prey, etc.) relevant for the Oder River.
  • Determine dose dependent effects upon the target organisms
  • Analysis of factors that trigger toxic effects on the organisms tested (e.g. nutrient availability, density, presence of prey)
  • Data evaluation, publication and presentation of results in scientific journals and at conferences
  • Close collaboration with other working groups in the project

Your profile

  • Holding a master degree in biology, environmental sciences, or a related field with focus on plant physiology, plankton ecology, ecotoxicology, fish biology or aquatic ecology, or equivalent education is obligatory.
  • Practical experiences with laboratory experiment, preferably ecotoxicological experiments
  • Experience in molecular methods (preferably gene expression) would be beneficial
  • Advanced skills in statistical methods (mixed-effect models, preferably in R)
  • Experience in toxin analysis is a plus
  • Excellent oral and written English skills (preferably also in German)
  • Good communication skills and ability to work in a multi-disciplinary team

Our offer

We offer an interesting position in an international and dynamic scientific environment. We foster flat hierarchies and active participation. We allow maximum individual freedom, enabling everyone to develop and use their creativity to the best of their abilities.

Salary is paid according to the German salary scheme for the public sector (TVöD Bund, 75% E13). It is a fixed-term position for doctoral research, limited to 3 years.

The IGB is committed to diversity. We welcome every application, regardless of gender and gender identity, origin, nationality, religion, belief, health and physical disabilities, age or sexual orientation.

We foster your career development by providing qualification and training opportunities. We actively support the reconciliation of work and family life. Applicants are treated equally regardless of gender. Severely disabled applicants with equal qualification and aptitude will be given preferential consideration.


Are you interested?

We look forward to receiving your application with the usual documents (cover letter, CV, certificates, 2 references or contact data of two referees in a single file) by 20.03.2023. Please state the job reference number 16/2023 and apply exclusively via our recruitment platform at Questions can be directed to Dr. Jörn Gessner (jö , Leader of the research Group: “Reintroduction of the European Sturgeon to Germany”) and Dr. Jens Nejstgaard ( , Leader of the research Group “Zooplankton Ecology”).


"Research for the future of our freshwaters" is the mission of IGB – Germany’s largest and one of the leading international centres for freshwater research. In order to investigate different aspects of freshwater ecosystems, their biota and societal relevance, we unit a wide range of disciplines and understand research as a joint effort. We train undergraduate and graduate students, promote young researchers at early career stages, and support the professional development of our employees in all areas. We foster an atmosphere that promotes diversity as well as family-friendly conditions. With more than 350 employees and guests from all over the world, we conduct research at five locations in Berlin and at Lake Stechlin (Brandenburg). IGB is a member of the German Leibniz Association and the Forschungsverbund Berlin e. V.