Are you an ambitious researcher eager to unravel the mechanisms underlying viral manipulation of insect behaviour? Do you want to join an ambitious, international research team to find answers to fundamental questions in virology and entomology? Then this postdoc position might be of interest to you.

You will join the Laboratory of Virology at Wageningen University as a postdoctoral researcher, to study viral manipulation of caterpillar behaviour. Parasites, including viruses, are able to manipulate the behaviour of their hosts to increase their transmission probability. The goal of this study is to unravel the molecular mechanisms behind behavioural manipulation by viruses in insects, for which caterpillars infected with baculoviruses will be used as a model. Infected caterpillars climb to elevated positions prior to death, a phenomenon known as tree-top disease. In this project you will apply a transcriptomic approach to reveal differences in gene expression patterns between virus-infected caterpillars under conditions triggering (light) and non-triggering (dark) tree-top disease.

 These data will provide information about virus and insect signal transduction pathways and effector genes that lead to altered host behaviour. In addition, small RNAs will be sequenced to look into the role of micro RNAs (miRNAs). A number of differentially regulated genes or miRNAs will be selected for follow-up studies (including both molecular and behavioural analyses) to confirm and specify their role in parasitic manipulation. The project will also aim to investigate tree-top disease in multiple caterpillar-baculovirus systems, to identify possible homologies and infer the evolutionary history of viral manipulation.

This postdoc position is embedded in the group of Dr. Vera Ros within the Laboratory of Virology. Our research focuses on insect virus – host interactions. We study a range of RNA and DNA viruses in insects, focusing on virus-induced manipulation of caterpillar behaviour, covert (latent or persistent) virus infections in insects (related to insect mass rearing), virome identification of insects and biological control of insects using viruses. You will collaborate with other researchers in the team and within WUR and with colleagues abroad.

Your qualities

You are a curious and highly motivated researcher with a proven track record in a relevant field (see below). You also possess:

  • A PhD in biology, virology, entomology, molecular life sciences or a related field
  • Excellent skills in performing (behavioural) experiments with insects
  • Experience with molecular biological techniques
  • Experience with bioinformatic analyses and/or virology is a plus
  • Proven ability to organize and design laboratory experiments
  • Ability to work in an international research team in a collaborative spirit
  • Excellent communication skills and proficiency in English (written and spoken)

We offer you

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will of course receive a good salary. Depending on your experience, we offer a competitive gross salary of between € 3,413,- and € 3,557,- for a full-time working week of 38 hours, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale 10). Initially, we offer you a one-year contract, which will then be extended with an additional year if there is mutual enthusiasm. Of course, we would be happy to discuss this with you if you have any questions.

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 18th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad

Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research’s International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling. For instance under the “30% rule”, certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.

Do you want more information?

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Vera Ros, Associate Professor, by telephone +31-317-484461 or by e-mail  For more information about the procedure, please contact

Do you want to apply?

You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval. This vacancy will be listed up to and including Monday 6th of March 2023. We hope to schedule the first job interviews mid-March 2023.

Equal opportunities: Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

The Laboratory of Virology is part of the Plant Sciences Group of Wageningen University and is situated at the Wageningen Campus. Currently, about 40 researchers, including technicians, PhD students and Postdocs are employed at the Laboratory of Virology and contribute to a lively, research-driven work environment. Research at the Laboratory of Virology is focussed at various animal-, insect- and plant viruses. Plant viruses form a major threat for crops and ornamentals and are often transmitted by insect vectors.

Arboviruses are transmitted by insects as well and cause disease in humans and animals. Insect-infecting viruses on the other hand are pathogenic to insects, are used to control pest insects, and form a threat to insect mass production. Insect viruses are also in use biotechnologically to produce recombinant proteins for instance for vaccines. Our research concentrates on virus-host and virus-vector interactions, with special attention for defence mechanisms, viral evasion strategies, covert virus infections, biological control and host manipulation mechanisms.

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