Wageningen UR – PhD position ‘Finding genes for traits using systems genetics’

We are looking for
Genome editing promises to revolutionize plant breeding because it allows accurate and efficient modification of genes to improve crop traits. Both for large-scale plant phenotyping and genotyping a range of high-throughput methods are becoming available, but there are no systematic methods to subsequently link the genes to traits, to find the targets for modification. A method potentially capable of this is Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) analysis, which is used to identify genomic regions affecting a ‘continuous’ trait (like plant height, or seed size). However, two main issues prevent QTL analysis from being used systematically: first, its low resolution, with identified DNA regions that can span hundreds of genes; and second, its lack of power when dealing with complex traits affected by many genes with possibly small effects. In this project you will develop and apply systems genetics approaches to integrate QTL analysis with various kinds of molecular interaction data. By combining gene annotation and genetic variation with gene expression and phenotype measurements, you will identify molecular networks underlying plant traits. These will serve to identify key regulatory genes and predict the effects of naturally occurring genetic variants. The methods and predictions will be made available in the AraQTL workbench at http://www.bioinformatics.nl/AraQTL

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

  • an excellent academic record (MSc) in bioinformatics, computer science or a related area;
  • demonstrable skills in biological data analysis and software development;
  • experience with algorithm development and statistical analyses;
  • affinity with molecular biology and genetics;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills in English.

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, 5,000 employees, and 10,000 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.

This project is a collaboration of the Wageningen University Bioinformatics Group and the Wageningen Research Applied Bioinformatics cluster.

The Bioinformatics Group focuses on fundamental and applied bioinformatics research in the green life sciences. In particular, we develop and apply novel computational methods for the analysis and integration of –omics data. The group has a strong track record in genomics, algorithm development and machine learning. Still growing, the group currently holds 5 faculty and approx. 20 PhD students and postdocs, as well as 10-15 MSc students at any given time.

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