Nematode hitchhiking in shaping phage-bacterial interactions

Nematode hitchhiking in shaping phage-bacterial interactions

Terrestrial Ecology

Contact Person:

Droevendaalsesteeg 10
6708 PB Wageningen

Nematodes and viruses (phages) are important predators of bacteria. Soil is a complex, spatially structured habitat that presents unique challenges for bacteria and their predators. Model experiments have shown that bacteria-feeding nematodes can move their prey to new resource patches, as well as transferring phages between patches of host bacteria. We don’t yet know if nematode-mediated dispersal is a common occurrence in soil, or what its ecological impacts might be. 

This thesis project will address this knowledge gap experimentally, using model systems and real soil to test hypotheses such as:

  • Nematodes provide phage dispersal through soil
  • Nematodes enable bacterial “escape” from phage-infected colonies 
  • Nematode-mediated dispersal supports phage-host coexistence 

The project offers opportunities for an MSc thesis, and will provide space to develop original hypotheses and experiments within the broader research question. Candidates will master skills in soil ecology, nematology and microbiology research.

Skills required

Candidates should have a background in biological sciences, ideally with laboratory experience in nematology, soil science or microbiology. Self-motivation and the ability to work independently is needed. The working language will be English, so knowledge of Dutch will not be necessary.

Students will be hosted from September 2022 or later at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) for a period of 6 months (dates are flexible). For enquiries, please contact Dr Kyle Mason-Jones at