Multiple PhD and Postdoctoral positions (m/f/div) to work on the Microbiota-Root-Shoot Axis; The Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany invites applications for several ERC-funded positions in the field of microbiology, molecular plant-microbiota interactions, functional ecology and computational biology. The positions are available in the Multitrophic Plant-Microbe Interactions group headed by Dr. Stéphane Hacquard for an initial period of three years, with the possibility of extension.

Background / Objectives: The Multitrophic Plant-Microbe Interactions group aims at understanding the fundamental mechanisms that underlie the structure and the functions of multi-kingdom microbial consortia colonizing plant roots . The ERC-funded project MICROBIOSIS will focus on the fascinating, yet overlooked circuits that connect root microbiota composition belowground with aboveground leaf development.

The objective is to identify conserved strategies used by distantly related plant species for long-distance communication with root microbes and to design synthetic microbial communities that promote resistance to multiple aboveground stresses.

The project will involve the use of tractable microbial communities, cutting-edge metabolome, microbiome and grafting techniques, as well as genetic engineering methods and advanced gnotobiotic plant growth systems to mechanistically understand and engineer these circuits.

Skills required

The ideal candidates will have the ability to work at the interface between multiple research fields and will have expertise in one or more of the follow-ing: plant/microbial genetics, large-scale multi-omics, advanced statistical genetics, root or microbial metabolic engineering, grafting, root-shoot func-tional interplay, synthetic microbial communities and ecosystem engineering.

Having inter-disciplinary proficiency among molecular biology, ecology, and bioinformatics is advantageous. Very good organizational and communica-tion skills (i.e., English) are essential.

Payment Position

The positions must be filled this year. Selected candidates will be invited for interview. Salary and working hours are in accordance with the funding guidelines of the Max Planck Society for junior scientists. Working hours are fulltime; Payment and benefits are according to German TVöD-Bund.

The Max Planck Society is one of the lead-ing research organizations in Europe. We offer challenging tasks with a high degree of personal responsibility and creative free-dom in research laboratories, workshops, libraries and administration.

The Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research conducts basic research on plants using a wide variety of methods, in particu-lar molecular genetics, genomics, imaging processes, computational biology and bio-chemistry. Our goal is the deep and de-tailed understanding of plant biology in order to improve conventional breeding methods and to develop environmentally friendly crop protection strategies for crops.

We focus primarily on the evolution of plants, their genetic blueprint, their de-velopment and their interactions with the environment and microorganisms. How does the plant immune system react to plant pests, for example? How does flower-ing timing depend on seasonally changing day lengths?

How does the genetic variabil-ity of crop plants influence adaptation to certain environmental influences? Plant biologists search for the molecular basis of natural diversity of forms in the laboratory, on the computer, in the greenhouse or in the natural environment and thus make innovative contributions to plant breeding.

The Max-Planck society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals.

Furthermore, the Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply. The Little Pumpkins Parents’ Association offers childcare for children under the age of 3 at the MPIPZ.mIt is possible to buy an attractively priced VRS bulk customer ticket and apply for a subsidy from the MPI.

Your application

Your application must include a letter (2 pages max) stating why you are interested to join the MICROBIOSIS research team, your CV, a list of publi-cations or similar achievements, and names of three referees and should be send as a single pdf document through the online system, by latest May 9th, 2023.


For further information on this position please feel free to contact Dr. Stéphane Hacquard                      

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