The mission of the Plant Hormone Biology group of the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences is to understand the chemical communication of plants with other organisms in their environment.

With an international and diverse team of post-docs, PhDs and technicians with expertise varying from analytical chemistry to biochemistry to molecular biology we study how plants produce and secrete signaling molecules, particularly belowground, and how this affects the behavior of other organisms in the rhizosphere. This includes communication with nematodes and parasitic plants, and with microbial communities that have been shown to play a crucial role in the protection of plants against a range of stresses.

 Our research is aimed at understanding the biological relevance of this chemical communication and use it as a basis for improving resistance and harnessing the potential of beneficial root microbes resulting in improved stress resilience in crops for sustainable food production with reduced inputs. 

Parasitic plants are a major threat to agriculture in large parts of the world, and especially in the African continent where millet, rice and sorghum yields are severely affected by the witchweeds, Striga hermonthica and Striga asiatica. In a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, Promise 2, we will investigate with partners across the world whether the Striga problem can be tackled through the root microbiome of the host. 

We are looking for a highly qualified and enthusiastic postdoctoral researcher with metabolomics expertise to strengthen our team and study the root (exudate) metabolome and its relationship with Striga and the microbiome.

What are you going to do?

You will be responsible for the analysis of roots and root exudates from sorghum, millet and rice using LC- and GC-MS and phenotyping of the host-parasite interaction. LC-MS analysis will be done in collaboration with the Mass Spectrometry group (LC-QTOF-MS; metabolomics) and on our own triple-quad LC-MS (targeted analysis). Using data analysis, on the one hand you will identify signaling molecules that are crucial for the host-parasite interaction and may be targets for beneficial microbes.

On the other hand, you will identify metabolites that play a role in the recruitment or support of these beneficial microbes. Selected interesting metabolic features that emerge from these analyses will be isolated using preparative methods, to validate their biological role, and identified.

Tasks and responsibilities:
•    Organize experiments and root/root exudate collection, sample prep and LC-MS analysis;
•    Phenotype the host-parasitic plant interaction through bioassays;
•    Process and analyse metabolomics and phenotyping data to find relationships between metabolic features

     and biological phenotypes;
•    Supervise a part-time technician, and bachelor and master students.

What do you have to offer?

You are passionate about metabolomics and its use in biological science. You feel comfortable performing data analysis but can also coordinate experimental work. You enjoy working in a multidisciplinary team and are a team player. You have good communication skills as you will be expected to discuss your results with an international team of partners and in (inter)national meetings. 

Your experience and profile:
•    a PhD in Analytical chemistry, Biology or Plant Science;
•    experience with LC-mass spectrometry and metabolomics, including data processing and feature identification;
•    experience with data analysis and data integration;
•    affinity with plant metabolism and the plant microbiome;
•    fluency in English, both written and spoken.

Our offer

We offer a temporary employment contract for 38 hours per week for a period of one year. Upon a good evaluation this will be extended with another 12 months. The preferred starting date is 1 February 2024.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between  € 3,226 to € 5,090 (scale 10). This does not include 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% year-end allowance. The UFO profile Researcher, scale 10 is applicable. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.

 About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain. 

The Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) is one of the Faculty of Science’s largest institutes. Its approximately 240 scientists and staff members work in 17 research groups that perform excellent research centered on four themes: Neurosciences, Cell & Systems Biology, Microbiology and Green Life Sciences. Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:

  • Prof. dr. Harro Bouwmeester     T: +31620387674

Job application

If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the button below. We accept applications until and including 26 November 2023.

Applications should include the following information (all files besides your cv should be submitted in one single pdf file):

•    a detailed CV including the months (not just years) when referring to your education and work experience;
•    a letter of motivation;
•    a list of publications;
•    the names and email addresses of two references who can provide letters of recommendation.

Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered. Closing date:  26.11.2023. A knowledge security check can be part of the selection procedure. 


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