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The Institute of Marine Research (IIM-CSIC) offers 6 Research Topics to apply with us for post-doctoral contracts within the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – PF 2021 programme.

Candidates should have finished their PhD by the call deadline and have less than 8 years of postdoctoral experience.


Why the IIM?

The Institute belongs to the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the main research organization in Spain, the third in Europe and the seventh in the world.

The IIM-CSIC is one of the top marine research institutes in Spain, with a truly diverse research activity and its own transversal support services of Internationalization and Public Engagement. We offer a lively research environment to foster researchers’ careers, widening their collaborative networks & increasing their impact on society. 

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Six offers to develop an outstanding career

Supervisor: Eva Balsa Canto |  (Bio)Processes Engineering

Microbial populations have enormous potential to perform metabolically complex tasks for industrial biotechnology. Their design requires defining the species to be combined, their relative starting abundances, and the optimal environmental conditions. Answering these questions is a challenging task that entails integrating various omics data into models.

We aim at developing computational methods and multi-scale dynamic models to shed light on interspecies interactions and the environmental factors leading to the emergence of competence and cooperation among species. These models will play a critical role in the rational design and optimal control of novel bioprocesses.

Applications include fermentation processes of interest for the food industry.


Supervisor: Josep Rotllant | Aquatic Biotechnology

This project proposes to address the fundamental question of how does one genome create two completely different body plans in one animal? In other words, our project proposes to investigate the ‘deconstruction’ of the gene regulatory networks (GRN) responsible for metamorphic remodeling in the flatfish (Scophthalmus maximus) as case study.  So our main interest is to understand how the information encoded in the DNA is accurately used by cells to perform the physiological functions that are required during the different phases of metamorphic remodeling process in fish. We already know that the access to this information is tightly regulated by an intricate system of different regulatory layers involving, for example, the recognition of specific sequences in the DNA by transcription factors, the positioning of nucleosomes in the chromatin leading tight compactation or free accessibility of DNA,  associated methylation marks at key locations in the DNA, or the higher-order dynamics where  chromatin folds into discrete three-tridimensional (3D) structures that interact (“topologically associating domains”, TADs) . These determine, for instance, which genes need to be turned on or off at different developmental times, and in response to external factors (biotic and abiotic factors). The disruption or break down of these regulatory mechanisms are responsible of many developmental abnormalities such as morphological deformities. We aim to reveal the functioning of some of these mechanisms, which, in turn, will help us understand the cause of the associated dystrophies. To do so, we will employ diverse cutting-edge technologies including high-throughput techniques such as ATAC-seq, RRBS and RNA-seq to study not only individual genes, but the genome as a whole, letting us to measure changes in regulatory mechanisms at a global scale. The computational analysis of these datasets alone or in combined will allow us to test hypotheses and draw conclusions from observing specific patterns in the data.


Supervisor: Fran Saborido Rey|  Ecology & Marine Resources

Marine ecosystems are facing rapid changes making urgent to understand how exploited fishes respond to environmental variability, including fishing pressure. In this context it is equally important to understand thetemporal demographic changes, as well the spatial variation. While the former has been well studied, spatial analysis has received considerably less attention. But it is crucial to assess stock resilience and v vulnerability to environmental and anthropogenic stressors.

Flemish Cap is a fishing ground located east of the Grand Bank of Newfoundland in international waters. It is an especially sensitive to climate change area due to its particular oceanographic and geographic characteristics. Atlantic cod and redfish stocks are very relevant for fisheries as well as for the demersal ecosystem because of the key-role of these species in the trophic web that have shown significant spatio-temporal fluctuations in several biological traits, suggesting they are sensitive to external variations.

We have a long time series (33 years) on biological data of these species from the annual scientific survey and more importantly key life-history parameters related with mortality, growth, maturation and productivity. This time-series is being expanded backwards using dendrochronology techniques to reconstruct growth and maturity historical retrospective data series. Estimation of fish productivity is a key issue to understand recruitment process, and hence stock-recruitment relationship, a cornerstone in fisheries management. Several life history traits are involved in productivity and most are highly influenced by environmental factors and by fisheries.

The starting hypothesis of this project is that climate processes are a major determinant of the structure and function of the demersal fisheries (Atlantic cod and redfish) of Flemish Cap producing spatio-temporal changes. Research will investigate trends in productivity related traits during last decades in the Flemish Cap ecosystem and will try to disentangle the mixed effects of fisheries and environment in the main key fish species in this ecosystem. Spatial variations will be linked with habitat use and trophic web. Regime shifts will be estimated, and the vulnerability of the species, in the context of the ecosystem functioning analyzed to provide a better understanding of the resilience of the exploited species.

The candidate will benefit from i) the extensive time series produced from the annual research survey that covers the entire Flemish Cap ecosystem and that it is still ongoing (should join the survey every year); ii) the modern facilities at the Life history Service, including computing; iii) will co-supervise a PhD in a related topic.


Supervisors: Fran Saborido Rey & Laura Casas | Ecology & Marine Resources

The status of marine fish stocks needs to be assessed to ensure fishing practices that exploit the stocks at sustainable levels. On the other hand, the field of ecological genomics seeks to understand the genetic mechanisms underlying responses of organisms to their natural environments, being a truly interdisciplinary field.

We are currently working, through several research projects, in the application of DNA high throughput sequencing (HTS) methodologies to resolve some of the current fisheries management challenges and complement traditional methods to assist fisheries assessment.

These methodologies include the close-kin mark-recapture (CKMR) method which provides a new way to estimate abundance – and other key demographic parameters – using genetics to affordably and reliably identify parent–offspring pairs (POPs; and conceivably other types of kin) and then analyze the number and pattern of pairs in a mark-recapture framework. Moreover, CKMR also provides direct evidence on which animals are contributing surviving offspring, a parameter with important implications for the productivity and resilience of any species.

Novel HTS methods offer as well the possibility to infer other important parameters, including stock boundaries and connectivity or fine-scale population structure and molecular sexing, which are essential for fisheries management. A good example is Labrus bergylta, a temperate protogynous species of commercial interest across Europe. Research performed by our research group during the last decade has shown the existence of two genetically diverging colour morphs with clear differences in life-history that would require a separate management. These morphs are also being used to explore the genetic basis underpinning reproductive isolation in the marine environment, where physical barriers are absent, and to infer genomic changes shaping early stages of differentiation that enable speciation with gene flow. Our current projects are deepening into the molecular basis of this evolutionary trend and its implications for managing stocks and biodiversity.

The candidate will join these and other related projects and will benefit from i) the extensive sampling access based in our annual research survey, as well sampling facilities; ii) the modern facilities at the Life history Service, including molecular biology labs and high-performance computing; iii) will co-supervise master students and potentially a PhD in the same subject.

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Supervisor: José Pintado | Ecology & Marine Resources

Bacterial communities associated with Ulva spp. play an important functional role both in morphogenesis and reproduction, considering Ulva and its associated microbiota a  singular functional  entity  or  holobiont.  Moreover, Ulva spp.  host antibiotic-producing bacteria (APB, e.g.  Phaeobacter sp.)  with known antagonism against fish pathogens. Using   a   multi-disciplinary   approach, including   -omic   techniques,  the   research   will   contribute   to   the   understanding  of  the  role  those  APB,  and  the  conditions  that  favour  their  predominance  in  Ulva  spp.,  which  would have implications in disease control in fish-algae IMTA-RAS systems.


Supervisor: Isabel Medina | Chemistry of Marine Products

Our research line on “Dietary Biomarkers for Healthy Aging” aims to understand the beneficial effect that diets rich in algae and seafood can have during aging, with a particular emphasis on the effect on neuroinflammation and, therefore, on related neurological and neurodegenerative disorders.

Current research on the role of foods of marine origin in mental health, focuses on the intake of marine lipids and especially omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA n-3), in improving inflammation, oxidative stress and aging of immune cells, components that represent important mechanisms underlying aging. In this scenario, the formation of oxidized metabolites derived from n-3 PUFAs, such as EPA and DHA, is addressed as a crucial mechanism in the progression of inflammation and brain aging. The new proresolution lipid mediators of inflammation, derived from EPA and DHA and including lipoxins, resolvins, protectins and maresins not only delay the excessive inflammatory process, but also promote resolution by improving elimination of apoptotic cells and inflamed brain tissue debris. Due to the instability of these metabolites and the complexity of their precise analysis, this area of research is a complex challenge.

Therefore, the present research lines aim the formation of lipid mediators derived from oxidative modifications that occur in cell and tissue coming from animal models, and that can be associated with neurodegenerative disorders. The potential regulatory role that the consumption of foods of marine origin can play on these disorders will be evaluated. For this, Liquid Chromatography applications coupled to Mass Spectrometry will be developed to address the epilipidoma resulting from enzymatic and non-enzymatic lipid oxidative modifications, in samples from cell cultures and animal experimentation. And the results will be integrated with the information available on signalling pathways focused on lipids and oxidative modifications of proteins. The project will highlight the convenience of the intake of fish and products of marine origin during aging, as significant components of personalized nutrition for targeting a majority segment of the European population.”



How to apply?

Check the research topic summaries and contact the supervisor with your CV to start the application process by August 2021.

Beware that, once the candidate has contacted their potential supervisor, and if selected, they will have to discuss, write & submit a final application together to the European Comission. We advise you to contact your potential supervisor as soon as possible.

We hope to see you on our Info Day on the 13th Jul 2021. Remember to register here to receive all the information!