PhD student in parasitic plant infections: Ref Department of Plant Biology: The Department of Plant Biology undertakes fundamental research on model organisms, agricultural crops, forest trees and bioenergy crops.

Our main areas of research comprise the interaction of plants with microorganisms and other environmental stresses, plant growth and development, biotechnology and metabolic engineering, regulation of gene expression, population genetics, genome analysis and the development of breeding systems. Species in use are model organisms such as Arabidopsis, Physcomitrella, tobacco, crops such as rapeseed, basket willow (Salix), potato and cereals, and pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungi/oomycetes.

The department is responsible for basic courses and advanced courses in general and molecular genetics; gene technology; cell biology; plant physiology, gene expression, plant breeding, plant biochemistry and biotechnology, and molecular interactions between plants and pathogens. Besides, the department contributes to various other courses together with other departments.


A PhD position is available at the department to investigate the mechanisms behind parasitic plant infection. Despite their global prevalence and agricultural importance, we have little understanding of how parasitic plants modify host development to successfully invade and infect.

The aim of this PhD position is to build upon recent discoveries made in parasitic plant infection (Kokla et al. 2022 Nature Communications 13 (1) 2976, Leso et al 2023 BioRxiv) and use these findings to understand how parasitic plants change host development to allow infection. The project will use transcriptomics and reverse genetic approaches to identify genes that can be modified in the host to affect infection. The project will include several international collaborators and will focus on understanding the role of cell wall modifications, cell division and vascular biology to ultimately better understand how parasitic plants infect.

The PhD position is funded by a project grant from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), and the successful applicant will work in the group of Charles Melnyk for four years. The department is located in Uppsala BioCenter at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Uppsala is a lively university city, conveniently located close to Stockholm (40 minutes by train) and Stockholm’s main international airport (20 minutes by train).


Candidates should have an MSc degree or have completed four years of university-level education including one year at MSc level. The degree and courses should be related to plant biology, molecular biology, cell biology or related knowledge that the employer considers equivalent. Prior experience with genetics, plants, transcriptomics, microscopy and molecular biology are assets. Creativity, motivation and drive are important personal characteristics as is excellent proficiency in English since English is the working language in the research group.

Candidates should also have an ability to conduct independent research, take initiative, ask pertinent scientific questions, and interact well with other scientists and students. Place of work: Uppsala. Forms for funding or employment: Employment (4 years). Starting date: According to agreement.


Click the “Apply” button to submit your application. The deadline is 2023-03-24.

To qualify for third-cycle (Doctoral) courses and study programmes, you must have a second-cycle (Master’s) qualification. Alternatively, you must have conducted a minimum of four years of full-time study, of which a minimum of one year at second-cycle level.

Applicants will be selected based on their written application, letter of motivation and CV, degree project, copies of their degree certificate and transcript of records from previous first and second-cycle studies at a university or higher education institution, two personal references, and knowledge of English.

Please note that applicants invited to interview must submit attested copies of their degree certificate, a transcript of records from previous first and second-cycle studies at a university or higher education institution. Applicants who are not Swedish citizens need to submit an attested copy of their passport’s information page containing their photograph and personal details.

Academic union representatives: 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: Charles Melnyk, Universitetslektor:


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