A postdoc position is available in the group of Prof. Alain Goossens at the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology (PSB), a world-leading plant science institute located at the heart of a renowned Plant Biotech campus in Ghent, Belgium.

The Goossens lab, also called the Specialized Metabolism Group, focuses on the characterization of plant signalling networks that steer plant specialized metabolism within tightly regulated fitness program. The fundamental knowledge generated can often be translated to the design of novel tools for synthetic biology programs oriented towards sustainable production of high-value plant metabolites.

Job description:  The Goossens group has a longstanding interest in the signalling networks leading to the elicitation of the biosynthesis of bioactive specialized metabolites. These networks are modulated by phytohormones, such as jasmonates, or attackers, such as herbivores or rhizogenic Agrobacteria. Typically, elicitation of specialized metabolism is accompanied by growth arrest, the so-called growth-defence trade-off. Given that this trade-off is a highly undesired trait for plant metabolic engineering and synthetic biology programs, the Goossens group is continuously launching discovery programs for novel genetic tools that will allow rewiring plant fitness programs and promoting concomitant plant biomass and metabolite production.

This is the challenging research, in which you will become actively involved within the postdoctoral position. You will employ cutting-edge interactomics and transcriptomics platforms, as well as mine already existing datasets generated with these platforms, to pinpoint novel candidate trade-off regulators. Subsequently, innovative CRISPRn and CRISPRa tools will be implemented to assess the utility of the candidate regulators to rewire the plant signalling circuits and fitness programs, more specifically to improve bioactive metabolite yields in plant root cultures.

You will use tomato as the model system to discover and validate the innovative plant metabolic engineering tools. Further, given that through this position you will also be integrated in an international research consortium funded by a EU H2020 Research and Innovation action, the tools that you will have validated will be readily implemented in a series of medicinal plant species producing innovative cosmetics.

For this exciting project, we are looking for a talented and enthusiastic candidate with a PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Bio-engineering, Plant Biotechnology or equivalent.



  • You have a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Bio-engineering, Plant Biotechnology or equivalent.
  • You have excellent English communication skills (both oral and written).
  • You can plan and conduct research independently and accurately.
  • You can function well in a team as you will be integrated into the international collaborative research environment of the EU consortium within which this topic is embedded, and of the VIB-UGent Center of Plant Systems Biology.
  • You can take initiative and have a hands-on mentality, perseverance and critical mind-set.
  • You have a keen interest in plant metabolism, plant engineering and synthetic biology.

Desirable but not required

  • Experience from PhD and/or postdoc research in CRISPR/Cas based gene editing, synthetic biology, and/or metabolic engineering is an asset, as well as a publication record in peer-reviewed journals showing expertise in these areas.
  • Hands-on experience in RNA sequencing or other NGS workflows is an asset.
  • Experience in guidance of master and/or PhD students is an asset.

We offer

  • A full time post-doc position in the Goossens lab for 2 years, with a possibility to extension. An exciting and innovative project embedded in the EU H2020 Research and Innovation action ‘InnCoCells’, covering a fascinating combination of technologies and research interests, and aimed at discovering innovative high-value plant-derived cosmetic products and designing sustainable plant-based production sources for those. 
  • Access to state-of-the art tools and infrastructure within an excellence-based research institute. 
  • A stimulating and supportive international research environment. 
  • Various training opportunities are organized at VIB to broaden your expertise and skills (training.vib.be).

How to apply?

If you are interested in rewiring plant metabolic circuits, please apply online (applications by email will not be considered).

Please include a single pdf in your application that combines the following elements:

  • A 1-page motivation letter expressing your interest in and suitability for the project
  • A 1-page summary of past research activities
  • Detailed CV including publication list
  • Contact information of 2-3 referees

The first review of applications will start immediately. A shortlist of applicants will be selected and invited for interviews.

Apply now

The position is immediately available. Applications are welcome until the position is filled.

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