Applications are invited for a Post-doctoral Research Associate/Assistant position in the group of Dr Sebastian Schornack at the Sainsbury Laboratory (SLCU), Cambridge University, to study plant cell and developmental processes using microbial effectors. Our lab studies how plant cell & development processes shape interactions with beneficial and detrimental intracellular filamentous microbes and how microbes modulate such processes.

For this advertised project position, we are looking for a plant cell & developmental biologist. The aim of the project is to engineer effectors to achieve changes in plant development or plant interactions with the environment.

The plant immune system or microbiological work with the microbe are not central to this study. This research will build upon and expand on our recent discovery that effectors modulate Arabidopsis and Nicotiana development. As successful candidate you will study previously identified effectors and find new ones to interrogate cell processes impacting plant development.

You will also investigate changes in gene expression in effector-expressing and wild type plants using RNA-seq approaches and identify effector target processes using protein-protein interactions. You will establish tissue and developmental context specific expression of effectors and modulation of their corresponding plant target proteins to study the phenotypic consequences for plant development and interactions with the environment.

You will also use structure prediction approaches to guide effector engineering. You will receive horticultural/technical assistance and will be able to collaborate with postdocs studying other aspects of plant-microbe interactions, plant cell biology and plant development. You must have or be close to finishing a PhD in a relevant discipline (e.g., plant development, plant biotechnology, plant-microbe interactions with a focus on plant processes, or related fields).

Previous experience in plant cell biology or plant development is essential. Proficiency in standard molecular cloning (Gateway, GoldenGate) and quantitative PCR and RNAseq analysis is also required. You will be fully involved in the research whilst also writing up your research work for presentation and publication. You may be required to assist in the supervision of student projects and deliver seminars relating to your research area.

Good communication skills are required because you will be working in a team and collaborating with other researchers at the institute as well as a larger, international team of researchers. You should ideally have published (including preprints on sites like Biorxiv) in the field of plant cell and developmental biology. You should have a track record of science communication (e.g., presentations, outreach activities, teaching).

The Laboratory provides a welcoming and collaborative environment with a wide-range of family-friendly benefits and development opportunities and is well connected to other plant research institutes such as the Department of Plant Sciences and the Crop Science Centre. is critical that you include a motivational letter with your application, stating your future research interests and how they may align with the advertised project effector-mediated plant development reprogramming.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available until 31 December 2026 in the first instance. Once an offer of employment has been accepted, the successful candidate will be required to undergo a health assessment.

Click the ‘Apply’ button below to register an account with our recruitment system (if you have not already) and apply online. Scientific enquiries about the position should be directed to Dr Sebastian Schornack via email:

Enquiries about the application process can be directed to Please quote reference PT37723 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy. The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society. The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Further information: Further Particulars

Apply online

Closing date 18 August 2023

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