The Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology was founded in the late 1970s – when the College of Forestry moved to Umeå. The number of employees has since grown steadily is now around 100, including postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate students. In the late 1990s it was decided to join with the Department of Plant Physiology at Umeå University to form a research center, Umeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC).

The Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology moved into the premises adjacent to the partner department and together have developed a close and successful collaboration on research issues, technology platforms, and training of master’s and doctoral level students. The international element within UPSC is large, with over 40 nationalities represented. The department conducts introductory and advanced training in plant physiology, ecophysiology, plant molecular biology, forest genetics and forest biotechnology within the Forestry program and at the master level.

The department offers postgraduate studies in biology, specializing in plant physiology, ecophysiology, plant molecular biology and forest genetics. Postgraduate courses are generally held in cooperation with the Department of Plant Physiology. PhD in Contribution of Mechanosensing for Cell-Cell Adhesion in Plants


All living organisms experience physical stress, and notably tension and compression, as tissues grow. Adhesion between cells provides resistance to such forces and maintains the integrity of the organism. In turn, adhesion can be modulated, e.g. to promote cell migration in animals or cell elongation by intrusive growth in plants. The relation between mechanical forces and adhesion is a fundamental question in the development of multicellular organisms, yet it remains largely understudied in plants.

The project builds on previous work on the genetics (Verger et al., 2016, Development) and mechanics (Verger et al., 2018, eLife) of cell adhesion in plants. One part of the project will focus on Poplar with the aim to determine the contribution of mechanical signal in the differentiation and the intrusive growth behavior of fiber cells during wood formation, using mechanically constraining microfluidic systems, new mutants and reporter lines and transcriptomic analyses. The second part of the project will focus on manipulating and characterizing cell-cell adhesion in various newly generated lines of the liverwort model species Marchantia, in order to study the contribution of mechanosensing for cell-cell adhesion regulation in plants.

The long term goal of the project is to uncover the many implications of cell-cell adhesion in plant development, from the bases of plant multicellularity, to the integration of supracellular mechanical cues involved in the molecular processes behind wood formation.


To be admitted for studies at third-cycle level the applicant is required to have completed a second-cycle level degree, or completed course requirements of at least 240 ECTS credits, of which at least 60 ECTS credits are at second-cycle level, or have an equivalent education from overseas, or equivalent qualifications. To fulfill the entry requirements the successful candidate also must have completed 90 ECTS credits with relevance to biology. Out of this, at least 15 ECTS credits has to be in a subject closely related to the research topic of the graduate program as well as an independent project work of at least 15 ECTS credits in an area relevant for the project.

In order to be admitted to doctoral studies at SLU, you must be able to show proof of English language skills. The English language entry requirement is the equivalent of English studies at upper secondary (high school) in Sweden, called English Course B/English 6.

The applicant should have a strong interest for biophysics, microscopy and a background in cell and molecular biology. Previous experience in molecular biology and generation of constructs is required. Previous experience working with poplar and/or marchantia, marchantia transformation, confocal microscopy and bioinformatics analysis is highly desirable.

The successful candidate is expected to have good social skills and the ability to do research independently, as well as in a team.

Place of work:


Forms for funding or employment:

Employment 4 years

Starting date:

According to agreement


1) A personal letter describing yourself, your specific research interests and your reason for applying to this position (1 page max)

2) A curriculum vitae (CV)

3) A certified copy of grades and degree certificates

4) Copies of relevant work such as bachelor’s or master’s thesis or articles that you have authored or co-authored

5) Contact information of at least one references, familiar with the applicant’s qualifications

We welcome your application no later than 2022-08-30, use the button below.

Please observe that applicant/s chosen to participate in an interview shall hand in certified true copies of certificates, diplomas and transcripts from previous studies at an internationally recognized higher education institution (university or university college) and transcripts in connection to the interview. If the applicant is a foreign citizen we require a certified copy of the page in your passport with your personal data and photo.

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) is a world-class international university with research, education and environmental assessment within the sciences for sustainable life. Its principal sites are in Alnarp, Umeå and Uppsala, but activities are also conducted at research stations, experimental parks and educational establishments throughout Sweden. We bring together people who have different perspectives, but they all have one and the same goal: to create the best conditions for a sustainable, thriving and better world.

SLU has just over 3,000 employees, 5,000 students and a turnover of SEK 3 billion. The university has invested heavily in a modern, attractive environment on its campuses.

Contact person

Stephane Verger, Assistant Professor:

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