Feeding the growing world population under changing climate conditions poses an unprecedented challenge on global agriculture and our current pace to breed new high-yielding crop varieties is too low to face the imminent threats to food security. The  ERC  project BREEDIT, aims for an expeditious evaluation of combinations of potential yield contributing alleles by unifying ‘classical’ breeding with gene-centric molecular biology.  

The acronym BREEDIT,  a  word fusion of breeding and editing,  reflects the basic concept of combining breeding with multiplex genome editing of yield and growth-related genes.  By introducing plants with distinct combinations of genome-edited mutations in more than  60 known yield-related genes into a crossing scheme, the combinatorial effect of these mutations on plant growth and yield will be evaluated. 

Subsequent rounds of crossings will increase the number of stacked gene-edits per plant,  thus increasing the combinatorial complexity. Phenotypic evaluations throughout plant development will be done on our in-house automated image-analysis-based phenotyping platform. The nature and frequency of Cas9-mediated mutations in the entire plant collection will be characterized by multiplex amplicon sequencing to follow the efficiency of  CRISPR-cas9  genome editing and to identify the underlying combinations of genes that cause beneficial phenotypes  (genetic gain).  

The obtained knowledge on yield regulatory networks can be directly implemented into current molecular breeding programs and the project will provide the basis to develop targeted breeding schemes implementing the optimal combinations of beneficial alleles into elite material.

The selected postdoctoral fellow will work jointly with other post-docs and technicians, hired on the BREEDIT project, to perform the genetics and phenotyping. The postdoctoral fellow will design, perform, and evaluate experiments and assist with reporting.



  • Ph.D. in Plant Biology: Biotechnology, Molecular Biology, Physiology, breeding or a related discipline.
  • You are fluent in English (spoken and written).
  • A solid publication record with first-author research publication(s) in peer-reviewed international journals.  

Desirable but not required

  • Prior experience with large-scale phenotyping experiments, multiplex genome editing, and/or crops genetics is a plus.

Key personal characteristics

  • Highly motivated and passionate about driving and performing research and associated laboratory tasks
  • You have excellent interpersonal communication skills and strong time-management skills.
  • You must be very meticulous, proactive, independent, and self-motivated.
  • You are a team player and can take responsibility.
  • You are enthusiastic to be part of a dynamic research lab. 

We offer

  • A 3-year post-doctoral position.
  • A multidisciplinary highly stimulating and supporting international research environment.
  • Access to state-of-the-art tools and infrastructure.
  • Mentoring, supervision, and training to be the next-generation scientist, including transferable skills training programs available through VIB and UGent.

How to apply? 

The application should consist of

  • Your CV in pdf format (including publication list)
  • Your motivation letter expressing your interest and suitability for the position (pdf format)
  • A transcript of your Ph.D. degree
  • A reference letter from your Ph.D. supervisor and/or other references.

Motivated candidates are asked to apply online.

The first review of applications will start immediately. A shortlist of applicants will be selected and invited for interviews.  The position remains open until a suitable candidate is found. The position can be started immediately.

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