Postdoc in the chemistry of oat-Fusarium interactions

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Section for Plant Biochemistry offers a 2.5 years postdoc position to investigate the chemistry of the interaction between oat and the fungal pathogen Fusarium spp., starting from  1 April 2024, or as soon as possible thereafter.

The postdoc’s duties will include research within plant biochemistry, analytical chemistry and plant pathogen defense reactions as well as teaching. The post may also include performance of other duties.

Description of the scientific research environment

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences is a large department (400 employees) dedicated to plant, microbial, and environmental sciences (http://plen.ku.dk/english/ ). Further information on the Department is linked at http://www.science.ku.dk/english/about-the-faculty/organisation/.

The postdoctoral position is funded by a five-year research grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation that investigates plant strategies for detoxification of mycotoxins in the oat-Fusarium interaction, with a main focus on glutathione transferase enzymes (GSTs). The successful applicant will join the Plant Metabolic Plasticity research group, headed by Associate Professor Nanna Bjarnholt and embedded in the Section for Plant Biochemistry. The project is carried out in collaboration with plant pathologists Professor David Collinge and Associate Professor Birgit Jensen in the Section for Microbial Ecology and Biotechnology.

The Section for Plant Biochemistry is among World leading laboratories within plant biochemistry and biotechnology. The section hosts seven research groups that mainly work with the biochemistry, physiology, ecology and biotechnology of plant specialized metabolism. We also host and collaborate about maintaining a metabolomics platform with several state-of-the-art instruments for GC- and LC-MS analyses, and more recently a facility for Mass Spectrometry Imaging of plant tissues, headed by the PI of this advertised postdoc position. The Section is characterized by a highly interactive, supportive and international research environment, interdisciplinary science, and a strong national and international network (http://plen.ku.dk/english/research/plant_biochemistry/).

Description of project and candidate
Global food security is challenged by fungal diseases annually devastating a third of all crops. Key staple food cereal crops are strongly affected, particularly by Fusarium species that decrease yields as well as grain quality and safety, due to contamination with harmful mycotoxins, most importantly the trichothecene deoxynivalenol (DON). Climate change increases the incidence of unexpected disease outbreaks, and management by fungicides is of limited success and unsustainable, making Fusarium resistance an important breeding target. The CerealGSTs project aims to identify novel routes for detoxification of Fusarium mycotoxins in oat, with a main focus on GST-mediated reactions. We will identify the detoxification pathways and the involved genes and enzymes using a combination of metabolomics, transcriptomics and enzyme characterization in vitro and in planta. The successful candidate will drive the metabolomics characterization of the oat-Fusarium interaction, using untargeted LC-MS analyses, and purification of compounds for identification by e.g. NMR and for use as substrates in in vitro assays. Relevant enzyme activities will be assayed in protein fractions from infected plants or by heterologous expression of candidate genes. To study the chemistry of the interactions in more depth, we will also analyze infected tissues by mass spectrometry imaging to map the localization of relevant metabolites.

The ideal candidate has a PhD in plant biochemistry or similar fields and extensive experience in plant metabolomics. Additional experience and qualifications within purification and structural elucidation of metabolites, other ‘omics technologies, plant molecular biology, enzyme biochemistry, general plant work and/or plant pathology is also an advantage. Training in mass spectrometry imaging will be available, and prior experience is not required, but may also be considered favorable in the evaluation of applicants. Furthermore, we are looking for a person with the following skills and mindset:

  • Enthusiasm for collaboration and good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Experience with supervision and mentoring of students
  • Curiosity towards biological questions and an open mindset for knowledge sharing
  • Ability to work independently, manage and carry through your research project
  • Strong scientific writing and publication record
  • Ability to critically review research results generated as part of the project
  • Positive attitude for engaging in Departmental and Section activities including lab duties, teaching and dissemination of your research

Inquiries about the position can be made to Associate Professor Nanna Bjarnholt, nnb@plen.ku.dk.

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

Terms of employment
The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff.

Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.

Negotiation for salary supplement is possible.

The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include with your application

  • Cover letter
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Diplomas (Master and PhD degree or equivalent)
  • The outline of a possible research plan for the project
  • Complete publication list
  • Separate reprints of 3 particularly relevant papers

The deadline for applications is Sunday 28 January 2024, 23:59 GMT+1. 

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee.

You can read about the recruitment process at http://employment.ku.dk/faculty/recruitment-process/.

Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.
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Faculty and academic positions

Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Nanna Bjarnholt 
Associate Professor
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