Within the PhD programme Environmental Biology fundamental life processes of plants and microbes are studied at different organizational levels, from molecules and cells to entire plants and ecosystems. The UN predict that the world population will increase to 9.6 billion people in 2050 and that feeding these people would require an increase in global food production of 70%. As the global acreage available for agriculture is limited and expansion of agricultural land will often go at the expense of natural habitat and biodiversity, an increase in food production efficiency is required. Meanwhile our climate is changing and the consequences for ecosystems are unclear. Plants and microbes are essential components of our natural and agricultural environment and their interactions play a key role in the sustainability of life on Earth. The PhD programme Environmental Biology promotes understanding of functioning of ecosystems and of the individual organisms that build the ecosystems. Our interdisciplinary research program is focused on the biological mechanisms that determine how plants and microbes adapt to their changing environment and how they interact with each other and with animals.
Research within this PhD programme often has a spin-off in applied sciences such as in plant breeding, biotechnology, or management of natural resources. The PhD programme Environmental Biology participates in the Utrecht strategic themes Sustainability and Life Sciences and the focus area Future Food Utrecht.
Associated research groups
Information regarding our research groups and researchers is available on the websites of the groups:
- Ecology & Biodiversity (Prof. George Kowalchuk, PhD)
- Molecular Plant Physiology (Prof. Sjef Smeekens, PhD)
- Plant Ecophysiology (Prof. Rens Voesenek, PhD)
- Plant-Microbe Interactions (Prof. Corné Pieterse, PhD)
Profile of prospective PhD candidates
Prospective PhD candidates have a MSc in the area of plant biology, ecology, molecular biology or microbiology and are highly motivated to perform ground-breaking research at the international forefront of one of the above-mentioned research areas.
Mission of the training programme
The mission of the PhD programme is to organize and facilitate research and education for PhD candidates in the area of microbiology and plant and environmental biology.