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Doctoral Researcher Position: The defensive roles of terpenoid resin in Norway spruce and the regulation of terpenoid biosynthesis

The Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology – Hans Knöll Institute – in cooperation with the Friedrich Schiller University, the University Hospital Jena and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology are offering an international graduate training programme. The
 
International Leibniz Research School (ILRS Jena)
 
gives doctoral researchers the possibility to prepare for their PhD exam in an ambitious program providing excellent research conditions. We invite applications for a
 
Doctoral Researcher Position (Ref.No. ILRS_02/2016)
The defensive roles of terpenoid resin in Norway spruce and the regulation of terpenoid biosynthesis
 
Many plants produce sticky mixtures of terpene compounds called resins. Known especially from conifer trees, resins have long been suggested to protect plants against herbivores and pathogens, but this role has never been rigorously proven since it has been difficult to manipulate resin abundance and composition in living plants for experimental testing. In addition, there is little information about which components of resin, the volatile C10 monoterpene olefins or the non-volatile C20 diterpene acids, are important against enemies and why these compounds occur in such complex mixtures.
Since resin in living trees is stored under pressure in ducts that rupture on enemy attack, it is hard to mimic realistically in in vitro experiments. For this reason, we have developed a stable genetic transformation system for Norway spruce ( Picea abies ) over the last several years and used it to modify resin composition for testing the function of resin in the living plant. By transformation with constructs resulting in constitutive over-expression or RNAi-driven suppression of terpene biosynthetic transcripts, we have created transgenic lines with altered terpene resin phenotypes. Manipulating the expression of specific isoprenyl diphosphate synthases that control the formation of different classes of terpenes allowed us to create spruce lines some with increased monoterpenes and others with decreased diterpenes with no major morphological differences from untransformed control lines. These now offer an ideal experimental system for testing the function of plant resin against enemies in a living tree.
We now plan to characterize these transgenic lines in detail to determine the chemical changes present, investigate the effects of altered resin content on herbivores and pathogens, and learn more about what factors control terpenoid biosynthesis. The goal is to understand more about the biological function of terpenoid resins in conifers and what regulates their formation.

We expect:
  • a Master’s degree (or equivalent allowing you to pursue a PhD degree) in Natural or Life Sciences. Research at ILRS is centred around “Microbial and Biomolecular Interactions”. Candidates about to earn their degree are welcome to apply.
  • experience in plant biochemistry and molecular biology
  • interest in working with insects and fungi as well as plants
  • high motivation to join one of the research areas of ILRS
  • creativity and interest in shaping your own thesis project
  • an integrative and cooperative personality with enthusiasm for actively participating in our lively community
  • very good communication skills in English
We offer:
  • a top-level research environment
  • efficient supervision by a team of advisors
  • a comprehensive mentoring programme
  • courses in state-of-the-art technologies and soft skills
  • strong communication and interaction between the involved institutions
  • Jena – City of Science: innovative business activities, successful scientific centres and a vibrant cultural scene around the famous Friedrich Schiller University
The three-year Doctoral Researcher position is available starting from July 2016. Salary will be paid according to TV-L (salary agreement for public service employees). HKI is an equal opportunity employer.

Further information:
Prof. Dr. Jonathan Gershenzon, PI, gershenzon@ice.mpg.de
Dr. Christine Vogler, ILRS Coordinator, ilrs@leibniz-hki.de

The application process is handled exclusively online. Please acquaint yourself with the scientific projects offered on our website and thoroughly follow the instructions for the online application process:

www.ilrs.de/vacant-projects.html

Deadline for application: Apr 14, 2016.
Successful applicants will be invited to attend a recruitment meeting in Jena (envisaged date: Jun 09-10, 2016).

Contact detail


How to apply:
The application process is handled exclusively online. Please acquaint yourself with the scientific projects offered on our website and thoroughly follow the instructions for the online application process:
www.ilrs.de/vacant-projects.html

Online Application at: https://www.uni-jena.de/jsmc_online_application/
Send application to
Dr. Christine Vogler, ILRS Coordinator, ilrs@leibniz-hki.de
 

Job profile


Working hours
Full-Time
Contract duration
Temporary
Type of job
PhD Project
Work experience
job experience is not required
Region
Germany (Thüringen)
Working place
07745 Jena
Area of expertise
Biology & Life Sciences, Chemistry, Biotechnology