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PhD thesis Offer
Metagenomics of Danakil polyextreme environments: molecular adaptations and functional potential of novel phylogenetic lineages

Key words: metagenomics, Metabarcoding, metagenome-assembled genomes, single-cell genomics, extreme environments, symbiosis

Supervisor: Purificacion LOPEZ-GARCIA

Lab: Écologie, Systématique et Évolution, team “Diversité, Ecologie et Evolution Microbiennes“, Université Paris-Saclay GS Life Science and Health

The metagenomic exploration of microbial ecosystems opens an unprecedented window on their evolutionary diversity and ecological functioning. Yet poorly explored, polyextreme environments offer the possibility to understand the specific adaptations to conditions bordering the physicochemical limits of life. We have collected unique plankton and microbial mat samples from a series of polyextreme lakes in the vicinity of the Erta Ale volcanic chain in the Danakil salt depression (Ethiopia) following a salinity gradient under geothermal influence. We propose a PhD subject combining metabarcoding, metagenomic and single-cell genomic analyses with contextual hydrochemical and mineralogical data in order to answer to the following questions:

i) What is the microbial community structure and which are the abiotic and biotic determinants influencing it?
ii) Which are the metabolic functions associated to these communities and the molecular adaptations along the physicochemical gradients of these extreme environments?
iii) How do specific microorganisms adapt? Do we find novel divergent microbial lineages adapted to these conditions? Are prokaryote-prokaryote symbioses favored in certain conditions?


Candidates should have skills in bioinformatics, metagenomics, molecular phylogeny and biostatistics.
Contact: Purificacion LOPEZ-GARCIA



1. Belilla J, Moreira D, Jardillier J, Reboul G, Benzerara K, Lopez-Garcia JM, Bertolino P, Lopez-Archilla AI, López-García P (2019) Hyperdiverse archaea near life limits at the polyextreme geothermal Dallol area. Nature Ecol Evol, 3:1552–1561
2. López-García JM, Moreira D, Benzerara K, Grunewald O, López-García P (2020) Origin and evolution of the halo-volcanic complex of Dallol: Proto-volcanism in Northern Afar (Ethiopia). Frontiers Earth Sci, 7:351



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