PhD Student in Plant-Microbe Interactions
University of Leuven Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics
Belgium

PHD STUDENT PLANT-MICROBE INTERACTIONS: UNDERSTANDING THE MOLECULAR PROCESSES OF HAIRY ROOT DISEASE UPON INFECTION WITH RHIZOGENIC AGROBACTERIA

(ref. BAP-2019-439)



The Laboratory for Process Microbial Ecology and Bioinspirational Management (PME&BIM; TC Bioengineering Technology; Department Microbial and Molecular Systems) is internationally recognized for its research in the domain of plant-microbe interactions as well as plant-microbe-insect interactions. Within the research team an important focus is on biological control, i.e. the management of pests and plant diseases by the use of beneficial (micro)organisms.

 

Project

We are looking for a dynamic and highly-motivated PhD student who will perform innovative scientific research within the framework of integrated pest management (IPM). 
Hairy root disease (HRD), a rapidly spreading and highly persistent disease, is caused by rhizogenic
agrobacteria and results in extensive root growth and associated yield loss of tomato plants. Rhizogenic agrobacteria contain a root-inducing plasmid – part (T-DNA) of which is transferred to the plant and is responsible for the HRD phenotype. However, the mechanisms underlying hairy root formation upon infection by rhizogenic agrobacteria remain largely unknown. This project aims to provide a comprehensive genotypic and phenotypic image of the disease progress via a holistic approach focusing on both Agrobacterium characteristics and tomato root responses. You will perform a comparative genomics study of Agrobacterium isolates, revealing genetic hallmarks that result in differences in virulence, hairy root formation or biofilm-forming capacities. A powerful integrated approach combining various technologies and functional validation should reveal new insights into key processes in HRD development.
 
The PhD study will be performed within the framework of a KU Leuven C1-project in collaboration with Prof. Barbara De Coninck (Division of Crop Biotechnics). The research will be performed under supervision of Prof. Hans Rediers and Prof. Barbara De Coninck. Both have plenty of experience with high-quality PhD research. The successful candidate will be part of an international research team, and will get the chance to collaborate with expert researchers in the field of microbiology, molecular biology, plant physiology, and biological control from our own and other universities and research institutes. 
 

Profile

Interested candidates must have a master’s degree in engineering technology, bioengineering, biology or equivalent, with excellent study results.
 
Qualified candidates:
  • have a strong interest and knowledge in the field of microbiology, molecular biology, plant protection, bio-informatics, and biological control;
  • are communicative and willing to present research results at (inter)national conferences, via social media and through teaching activities;
  • are willing to supervise student/thesis projects; 
  • are well-organized, flexible, critical-thinking and not afraid to take initiative;
  • can work independently, but also have good teamwork skills;
  • think in solutions, not in problems;
  • proficiency in English is expected for all applicants.

Offer

The successful candidate will be hired as a PhD fellow. We offer a fulltime job for 1 year (extendable after positive evaluation for 3 more years), starting on October 1, 2019.  
 
 
We offer:
  • A challenging research project at the forefront of the field 
  • Excellent scientific environment in a top-ranked university
  • State-of the art technology in microbiological research
  • Living in the beautiful medieval university town Leuven, near Brussels in the heart of Europe

 

Interested?

For more information please contact Prof. Hans Rediers, Laboratory for Process Microbial Ecology and Bioinspirational Management, Departement M2S, hans.rediers@kuleuven.be.
 
In addition to your cv and letter of application, please add:
a) An overview of study results
b) A pdf version of your master thesis
c) Names of one or two references who may be contacted
 

You can apply for this job no later than August 15, 2019 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.


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