Harro Bouwmeester

PhD position Plant-nematode chemical communication in potato

Website University of Amsterdam, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences

The mission of the Plant Hormone Biology group is to understand the chemical communication of plants with other organisms in their environment. We study how plants produce and secrete signaling molecules, particularly underground, and how this affects the behavior of other organisms in the soil. One example of this is the production and exudation of strigolactones, signaling molecules of parasitic plants and symbiotic fungi. For a project funded by the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research Applied & Engineering Sciences domain (NWO-TTW) and in collaboration with the Laboratory of Nematology (Aska Goverse) in Wageningen, we will investigate the role of signaling molecules in the interaction of potato with nematodes. You will identify candidate genes through a number of approaches such as RNAseq and QTL mapping all aimed at finding out how these signaling molecules are produced in plants and perceived by the nematode.  You will develop gene silencing/knockout techniques to manipulate the signaling molecule production in potato, as well as high throughput bioassays with nematodes to evaluate the silencing/ knockout effects. The most promising genes will be used for stable transformation of potato. On the other side of the relationship you will study how the plant signals are perceived by the nematode. The research should shed light on the importance of these molecules for this interaction and provide the fundamental knowledge enabling biotechnological and agronomical applications to control infestation by nematodes.

You are expected:

  • To investigate the involvement of chemical signaling in the potato-nematode interaction;
  • To elucidate the biosynthesis of these chemical signaling molecules;
  • To elucidate the importance of these signaling molecules for potato and the potato-nematode interaction;
  • To supervise bachelor and master students

What do we require?

  • An MSc in Biology or Plant Science;
  • Experience with plant molecular biology;
  • Excellent communication skills;
  • Affinity with plant metabolism, protein biochemistry and nematodes;
  • Fluency in English, both written and spoken

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week, preferably starting at 1-7-2020 for the duration of 4 years. You will get a customized Training and Supervision Plan, that will be evaluated every year. The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month, based on fulltime (38 hours a week), exclusive 8 % holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favorable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The collective labour agreement  Nederlandse Universiteiten is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look at: https://www.uva.nl/en/faculty/faculty-of-science/working-at-the-faculty/working-at-the-faculty-of-science.html


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact: Prof. Harro Bouwmeester, Chair of the Plant Hormone Biology group, tel. + 31 6 20387674 or email h.j.bouwmeester@uva.nl or Dr. Lemeng Dong, project leader, tel. +31 6 16431799, e-mail l.dong2@uva.nl

About the Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 6,500, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain. The Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) is one of the Faculty of Science’s largest institutes. Its approximately 240 scientists and staff members work in 16 research groups that perform excellent research centered on four themes: Cell & Systems Biology, Neurosciences, Microbiology and Green Life Sciences. Within the Theme Green Life Sciences, five research groups have dedicated their research to plants: Plant Physiology, Molecular Plant Pathology, Developmental Genetics, Plant Cell Biology and Plant Hormone Biology. The Plant Hormone Biology group investigates the role of plant hormones and other signaling molecules in the communication of plants with other organisms. The group consists of an international team of post-docs, PhDs and technicians – with expertise ranging from analytical chemistry to biochemistry and molecular biology – who are working on a number of inter-related topics.


Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your CV and cover letter by 24 May 2020. Applications should include a motivation letter and CV, including a list of publications and references. We will invite potential candidates for interviews on 2 and 9 June 2020

To apply for this job email your details to h.j.bouwmeester@uva.nl