PhD Position in Comparative (Meta)Genomics of Fungal Banana Pathogens
Wageningen University

PhD Position on Comparative (Meta)Genomics of Fungal Banana Pathogens

Location Wageningen

We are looking for

We seek a young scientist who wants to solve complex genome evolutionary patterns to understand and combat banana pathogens. Banana is one of the most popular fruits and is a crucial food commodity for Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Worldwide largely grown as a monoculture, it is particularly vulnerable to diseases, two of which are caused by fungal pathogens. The Kema - Seidl research teams develop and apply state-of-art (comparative) genomics approaches to study the global biodiversity of these important banana pathogens. To strengthen our teams, we seek a driven and enthusiastic colleague. Are you a result-driven researcher who has experience in (comparative) genomics and next-generation sequencing?  Do you want to contribute to our efforts to understand the evolution and global dissemination, genome structure and functioning of banana pathogens? In this project, we focus on pathogen effectors - the tools used by the pathogens to support host infection – to shed light on adaptation, selection and global dissemination. Eventually, these effectors will be used as tools to enable the discovery of new resistance factors to turn banana from a classic monoculture into a sustainable diversified crop, both for fruit and food production. The research is projected to lead to fundamental new insights into plant-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions and contributes to securing and diversifying food production. You will be embedded in two strong and expanding teams working on banana-pathogen biology, genome biology, comparative genomics, pathogen genetics, and molecular biology

We ask

We are looking for an ambitious, enthusiastic team player and result-driven scientist with:

  • an excellent academic record (MSc) in bioinformatics or computational biology;
  • demonstrable expertise in working with next-generation sequencing data and/or comparative genomics;
  • proven proficiency in programming (in e.g. Python);
  • basic to intermediate statistical and mathematical skills;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills in English. This position requires an excellent English language proficiency (a mininum of CEFR C1 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page.

We offer

extension with another three years. Gross salary per month € 2395,- in the first year rising to € 3061,-  per month in the fourth year, for a fulltime appointment. The candidate will be based at UU with active collaboration with colleagues at WUR. 
In addition, we offer:

  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be determined in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
  • a flexible working time;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • use the sports facilities on campus.
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment.
We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

More information

For more information about this position, please contact prof. dr. Gert Kema (gert.kema@wur,nl) or dr. Michael Seidl (
For information on the selection procedure, please contact

Applications can only be submitted online, at; please do not mail material directly to the persons above.

The deadline for application is August 1, 2020.

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With approximately 30 locations, 6,000 employees, and 12,000 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at the special career site.

Equal opportunities employer

We are an employer that offers equal opportunities. We are happy to receive applications from all suitably qualified people regardless of race, gender, functional impairment, religion / belief, sexual orientation or age.

We believe that a diverse and inclusive working environment makes us a more relevant, competitive and resilient organization. Click here for more information about working at WUR with a functional impairment.

Wageningen UR has a global reputation for its ground-breaking research and innovative education in the fields of food and health, sustainable agrosystems, the rural environment, and societal development - all of which make an essential contribution to the quality of life, i.e. the supply of safe and healthy food and drinks, on the one hand, and the chance to live, work and play in a balanced ecosystem with a large variety of plants and animals on the other. Within Wageningen UR, the Plant Sciences Group (PSG) brings together science education and scientific, strategic and applied research in the fields of biology of plants in relation to their environment, of plant-related organisms and of plant production.
This project will be carried out at the Laboratory of Phytopathology within PSG. This rapidly expanding department focuses on fundamental and applied plant-microbe interactions. This project is placed in the Tropical Phytopathology team that aims to understand the interaction between banana and its major fungal pathogens, from the cellular up to population level. The project is embedded in a larger framework on improved banana breeding strategies at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Tanzania, and is funded through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The project will be executed in close collaboration with the department of Theoretical Biology & Bioinformatics (TBB) at Utrecht University (UU). TBB uses computational biology, bioinformatics, modelling, and big data to address both fundamental and applied questions in the life sciences. The successful candidate will be hosted at the Fungal Evolutionary Genomics group at TBB/UU.
The WUR and UU groups have a leading track record in genome biology, comparative genomics, pathogen genetics, and molecular biology and maintain many national and international collaborations. Together, WUR and UU develop and apply novel computational methods for the analysis and integration of –omics data of fungal pathogens in relation to global population diversification an the underlying genomic processes

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Bioloxy


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