Postdoctoral Position in Plant Synthetic Biology
University of Copenhagen Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Post doctoral position in Plant Synthetic Biology: “In planta storage of high-value natural products in dense bio-condensates”

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science at University of Copenhagen is offering two 2 year Post doctoral fellowship to investigate the mechanisms enabling some plant species to establish dense bio-condensates for storage of natural products at molar concentrations. The fellowships will commence October 1st, 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The postdoc’s duties will include research within plant synthetic biology as well as teaching. The post may also include performance of other duties such as scientific mentoring.

Description of the scientific environment

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences is a large department (400 employees) dedicated to plant, microbial, and environmental sciences ( Further information on the Department is linked at

The post doctoral position is financed by a five year Novo Nordisk Foundation Distinguished Investigator 2019 research grant “The Black Holes in the Plant Universe” and with the Plant Biochemistry Laboratory as the working place. The successful applicants will join the Synthetic Biology research group headed by Professor Birger Lindberg Møller.

The Plant Biochemistry Laboratory is among the world leading laboratories within plant synthetic biology. Built on truly interdisciplinary research, a strong international network, a highly interactive international research environment and continuous strong support from external funds, the laboratory has made many seminal contributions to science and has fostered a multitude of eminent researchers with influential positions in Denmark and abroad ( Our laboratory aims to provide science based solutions facilitating the global move into The Plantoprocene Era where use of fossil fuels are replaced by use of renewable energy resources and bio-based production. Green photosynthetic organisms play a vital role in this transition as providers of both food, biomaterials and energy as well as essential medicines, nutraceuticals, condiments and colorants. However, the precious substances produced are often found in very small amounts in the plants, extraction is difficult and harvest in nature is not sustainable. Our research initiative is going to overcome these limiting factors.  

Project description

The focus of “The Black Holes in the Plant Universe” research initiative is to unravel the biological mechanisms behind the intriguing ability of specific plants (e.g. sorghum, vanilla orchid, cannabis) to store rare and sparingly soluble natural products at seemingly impossibly high molar concentrations in liquid form in an attuned matrix of simple molecules termed a natural deep eutectic solvent (NADES). The cellular formation and organization of the NADES-based bio-condensates remain unchartered territory. Joint research expeditions into this territory will be organized to provide invaluable clues into plants’ orchestration of such NADES-based bio-condensates for production, regulation and storage of bio-active natural products while avoiding autotoxicity. The research defines new approaches for future plant-based production of high-value natural products and takes our understanding of plant plasticity and adaptation to climate change to an entirely new level. The research project will thus contribute with highly attractive knowledge for design and development of more efficient and commercially sound bio-production systems, focusing on the importance of storage of desired high-value natural products in plant cells in NADES-based bio-condensates. This type of storage is nature´s way to avoid auto-toxicity issues and unbalanced cell homeostasis and provides a third liquid phase that most likely enables plants to more swiftly adapt to environmental challenges. In summary: Learning from the principles in nature, the aim is to optimize the storage capacity of plant-based production systems by introducing formation of NADES based bio-condensates harboring desired high-value natural products in molar concentrations.

Key scientific qualification areas  

  • Plant molecular biology, metabolomics, enzyme biochemistry
  • Plant cell organelle isolation e.g. using free flow electrophoresis, quartz-syringe based micro-extraction, or laser-capture micro dissection
  • Metabolic regulation as studied using transcriptomics, metabolomics and mass spectrometry imaging
  • Immuno histochemistry and confocal microscopy e.g. in conjunction with fungal infection studies
  • Knowledge of natural product metabolism
  • Strong publication record

Key personal skills 

  • Enthusiasm and good interpersonal and communication skills with the ability to collaborate with others including supervision and mentoring of students
  • Curiosity driven interdisciplinary approach to science and a generous and open mindset
  • Ability to work independently and manage your research project
  • Ability to critically review research results generated as part of the project
  • Engagement in Departmental and Laboratory activities including lab duties, teaching and dissemination of your research
  • Ensuring GLP and general safety operations

Formal requirements

Applicants should, prior to the start date, hold a PhD degree in biochemistry, biotechnology, molecular biology, plant biology or similar subjects, and should be fluent in both spoken and written English. If you are still a PhD student at the time of the application deadline, please provide a confirmation letter from your supervisor that you are expected to finish in time before the start date of the Post doctoral position. Previous publications and relevant work experience will be included in the assessment of your qualifications.

Terms of employment

The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff.
Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.
The starting salary is currently up to DKK 426.625 including annual supplement (+ pension up to DKK 72.952). Negotiation for salary supplement is possible.

Application Procedure

The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include

  • Cover Letter. State your motivation for applying and describe how your profile contributes to the project. Please also include full contact details (name, address, telephone and e-mail) of 1-3 professional referees (maximum 1 page)
  • CV (maximum 2 pages)
  • Diplomas (Master and PhD degree or equivalent)
  • Research plan – description of current and future research plans (maximum 2 pages)
  • Complete publication list
  • Separate reprints of up to 3 particularly relevant papers

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

The deadline for applications is September 1st , 2020 23:59 GMT +2. Applications received after the deadline for applications will not be considered.

After the expiry of the application deadline, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee. Afterwards an assessment committee will be appointed to evaluate the selected applications. The applicants will be notified of the composition of the committee and the final selection of a successful candidate will be made by the Head of Department, based on the recommendations of the assessment committee and the interview committee.

The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant and the above-mentioned skills.

For specific information about the Postdoc fellowship, please contact Professor Birger Lindberg Møller, e-mail: or Post doc Mette Sørensen, Plant Biochemistry Laboratory, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 01-09-2020
Employment start: 01-10-2020
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences

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