About the Institute: “Can plant breeding be transformed into a rational, predictive science?” This is the question that motivates all research programmes at the Institute. We wish to determine how a detailed understanding of molecular mechanisms defined in model plant species can be used to predictively manipulate selected traits in crop plants.

The last years have seen a tremendous increase in our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms underlying plant biology. This progress has come largely from studies on model species, principally Arabidopsis thaliana. However, the deeper knowledge of the regulatory components and mechanisms controlling plant traits that has resulted has not yet had a sustained impact on plant breeding.

The aim of all work at the Institute is to find ways of utilizing this knowledge to develop rational approaches to making desirable changes in selected traits in crop plants. This also requires the study of biological processes in crop plants, with particular emphasis on understanding the variation present within each species.

Genetic variation is the raw material with which plant breeders work. Greater knowledge of the processes and genes that control trait variation will allow much more efficient breeding, using either marker-assisted selection or direct transfer of useful genes to crop plants.

11 fully funded PhD student positions in the computational & experimental plant sciences:

Exciting Opportunity: 11 Fully Funded PhD Positions in Computational & Experimental Plant Sciences. Are you passionate about advancing plant research? Join us at the International Max Planck Research School, where we explore complex plant traits through computational and evolutionary approaches. Don’t miss this chance to contribute to cutting-edge plant science and nurture your academic journey. Join us today!

THE GRADUATE SCHOOL: Located in Germany, our program is a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research and the University of Cologne. We welcome international students, offering close mentorship, professional skill development, and a platform to share your scientific discoveries – all in English.

THE RESEARCH: Our mission is to unravel fundamental plant processes and pave the way for innovative plant breeding. Over 30 research groups investigate key traits like reproductive development, organ geometry, immunity, and microbiome impact on plant performance. We leverage interdisciplinary technologies, spanning genetics, genomics, structural biochemistry, advanced imaging, and computational modeling across various plant species.


We’re seeking highly qualified, motivated students from all nationalities holding or expecting a Master’s degree in a related field. A strong academic and research track record, along with fluency in English, are essential.


Immerse yourself in an international, interdisciplinary research environment with cutting-edge facilities and renowned faculty. These positions are fully funded for 3 years with the potential for extensions. The salary is in accordance with the Max Planck Society doctoral funding contract (TVöD 13, 65%). We’re committed to diversity and encourage applications from individuals with disabilities and women in underrepresented areas.


  1. Submit your application online by January 6th, 2024, at gradschool.mpipz.mpg.de.
  2. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interviews from March 19th to 25th, 2024.
  3. Selected applicants will commence their PhD journey between the summer and October 1st, 2024.

Explore available projects: https://www.mpipz.mpg.de/5553343/projects-2024


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