We are looking for
an enthusiastic PhD student for within one of the leading research groups in Europe on antimicrobial resistance in livestock.

About the PhD project
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a topic of great concern in both veterinary and human medicine. Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing bacteria have emerged globally in livestock and as a consequence, animals (especially poultry) are considered a putative source of ESBLs for humans. Although the actual attribution of AMR from livestock to public health remains a subject of debate, it is desirable to reduce ESBLs in livestock. Strategies to achieve this are a topic of current research. Broilers are often colonised by ESBL-producing bacteria even in the absence of selective pressure. It is hypothesised that animals are more at risk for colonisation when the gut microbiome is still under development. ESBLs and other AMR genes are often encoded on plasmids that are transferred between bacteria resulting in the spread of resistance within a population.

The aim of the PhD project is to study the microbiome of broilers at farms throughout the production cycle to determine the optimal age for implementing intervention strategies and to develop novel intervention strategies.

To fill the gap between lab tests and animal experiments, an in vitro chicken gut model will be set up and tested in collaboration with colleagues at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA, UK). The model simulates the microbiome of broilers in a laboratory environment and will be used to study intervention strategies to prevent colonisation of ESBL-producing bacteria. These strategies will include various feed additives such as organic acids, prebiotics and probiotics. Furthermore, the model will be used to test intervention strategies to prevent the transfer of AMR-plasmids within the microbiome.

Data gained from both the animal microbiome and the in vitro gut model will aid in our understanding of the dissemination of AMR in broiler farms with the aim of reducing AMR prevalence in livestock, ultimately reducing the risk of AMR spreading from livestock to the human population.

The project will be carried out in close collaboration with Prof. Arjan de Visser, Laboratory of Genetics, Wageningen University, who will act as academic promotor.


  • Meet the requirements of Wageningen University for admittance as PhD (appropriate MSc and English skills).
  • MSc in Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Evolutionary Genetics, Biotechnology or Bioinformatics.
  • An interest for AMR in relationship with livestock husbandry and the ecology of the microbiome.
  • An interest in both fundamental and applied research.
  • Good organisational and (written and spoken) communication skills in English, as well as a proven ability to collaborate with others.
  • Willingness to travel internationally, to attend international project meetings and conferences and visit other institutes.

You are obligated to submit a Certificate of Conduct.

We offer
We offer you a challengling project for a period of 4 years within one of the leading research groups in Europe on antimicrobial resistance in livestock. The position is available within Wageningen University & Research at Wageningen Bioveterinary Research in Lelystad.
The organization has good and flexible employment conditions, including good education and training facilities for PhD students at the Wageningen Graduate Schools.
Employment basis: Appointment for 36 hours per week for a period of 1.5 years with extension of 2.5 years after successful evaluation. The gross salary is in according to the Collective Labour Agreement of Wageningen University and first year salary is € 2.260,-per month rising to € 2.890,- in the fourth year.

More information
For information please contact Mike Brouwer ( or Arjan de Visser (

You can apply until February 27th. Please do not e-mail directly to the persons mentioned above, but use the website of Wageningen University & Research:

We are
Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) is one of the research instutes of the Animal Sciences Group of Wageningen University & Research. Research is conducted here on health and infectious diseases through diagnostics, monitoring programmes, fundamental research, clinical studies, epidemiology and risk management. WBVR is appointed as National Reference Laboratory for antimicrobial resistance in animals and is an active research group within the AMR field. Ongoing monitoring activities are combined with a variety of research projects. The group consists of two senior research scientists, one junior scientist and four technicians all working closely together to cover the different tasks and disciplines.

Apply now

No agencies

Keywords: Vacancy, MSc, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Evolutionary Genetics, Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, Wageningen, Gelderland