PhD Position in Valorization of Proteins from Agricultural Side Streams
Wageningen University

PhD Candidates in Valorization of Proteins from Agricultural Side Streams

Location Wageningen

We are looking for

As a result of three PhD projects within Plant Breeding, we can appoint four PhD candidates for the following positions:

  1.     PhD candidate Aphid resistance in Capsicum
  2.     Two PhD candidates pulses without off-flavours
  3.     PhD candidates valorization of proteins from agricultural side streams
You can apply on more than one position.
Research will take place at: Plant Breeding

Do you want to use your passion for making our agricultural production more sustainable as a PhD candidate valorization of proteins from agricultural side streams? Are you an enthusiastic, problem solving person who likes to work on developing genetic and processing tools that enable efficient extraction of high-quality proteins from agricultural side streams, namely leaves and stems?

The transition to a more plant-based protein diet entails the exploitation of new protein sources for food and feed. One potentially large resource of proteins, which is currently poorly exploited, are agricultural waste streams.

Fractionation of proteins and other ingredients from plant biomass occurs via processes that often require harsh conditions. Nowadays also milder conditions are investigated (such as dry separation), but milder processes generally result less pure fractions, and consequently only part of the protein ends up in the fraction used for food applications; the rest is used for lower-value applications such as feed or even fuel. Novel protein sources, such as algae or leaves could be an important protein source but the efficiency with which protein can be extracted is lower than that of conventional protein crops. Only a fraction of around 10 to 20% of the proteins can be extracted at relatively high purity. The reason for this lower efficiency is partly because the extraction methods have not been optimized for these new plant resources, but also because these crops, or parts of the crop, have not been optimized for protein extraction. Our hypothesis is that the characteristics of the proteins and their location in the cell play an important role in extraction efficiency.

In this project we aim to develop genetic and processing tools that enable efficient extraction of high-quality proteins from agricultural side streams, namely leaves and stems. For that we will investigate which factors are key in extraction of proteins from green tissues and we will further use these insights to better understand current fractionation processes and the potential of altering plants via dedicated plant breeding.

The PhD student will be investigating the process storage of proteins in green tissues and will identify main bottlenecks for extraction of proteins from leaves and stems of large horticultural crops such as tomato, cucumber and bell peppers. The first phase will be dedicated to understand the fundamental process, and develop breeding tools to improve protein extractability from agriculture side streams. The knowledge developed in the first phase will be applied to agricultural side stream as occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa region.

We ask

  • An MSc in Plant Sciences or Biology, with preference for candidates with good background in Genetics and Breeding.
  • An enthusiastic, problem solving person who likes to work in a multidisciplinary team
  • Experience with molecular techniques and knowledge in genetics
  • Excellent writing and oral communication skills in English (a minimum of CEFR C2 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page
  • A team player who can also work independently
  • An interest in (co-)supervising (under) graduate students
  • You meet all the entry requirements of the WUR PhD programme.

We offer

You will receive a funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team. We offer a temporary contract for a period of 1 year with extension of 3 years after successful evaluation. The gross salary for the first year is € 2.395,- per month rising to € 3.061,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreement (scale P). This is based on a full working week of 38 hours.

In addition, we offer:

  • 8% holiday allowance
  • a structural end-of year bonus of 8.3%
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions
  • flexible working hours that we determine together in good consultation
  • excellent pension plan through ABP
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes
  • a flexible model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan
  • a lively workplace on the Wageningen Campus
  • make use of the sports facilities on campus for a small fee.
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with our internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for personal initiative in a learning environment. With us you get a versatile job in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere, with students and staff from over 100 countries around the world.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University”in the Netherlands for the 15th consecutive time.

More information

For further information about the position you can contact Prof. Dr. Luisa M. Trindade
For more information about the procedure, please contact

Do you want to apply?

This can be done directly via the application button at the vacancy on our website so that we can process your personal data with your permission.
This vacancy is open until 10th August 2020. Preferred staring date 1st September or 1st October

We are

Plant Breeding, Wageningen University & Research is a merged unit of Wageningen Research and Wageningen University with around 200 people including MSc and PhD students and guest workers. It is a highly international group with more than 50 nationalities organised in ten research groups. We conduct fundamental, strategic and applied research and provide teaching at all educational (BSc, MSc and PhD) levels. Our research focusses on unravelling the genetic basis of traits which are relevant to achieve a sustainable agri- and horticulture. We conduct this research often together or in partnership with breeding companies, local, regional and state governments.

Our objective is to raise the productivity of agriculture in a sustainable and socially acceptable manner and increase the resilience of systems to deliver food security, feed, fuel, fibre and ornamental services under current and future climate and resource availability. As guiding principles we work synergistically in teams, like to express and base our opinions on sound science and operate self-conscientiously in our networks to have impact and attract and serve our clients’ needs. We strongly believe in diversity and inclusiveness to strengthen our teams, their modus operandi and their impact. We advise the public and the private sector and provide training in areas of our expertise.

The mission of our University 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, 6.500 employees, and 12.000 students, it 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. We have been named Best Employer in Education category 2019-2020.

Click here for more information about working at Wageningen University & Research. More information about Wageningen Campus you can find here.

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