Utrecht University – Postdoc position in regulation of plant immunity


The successful applicant will work as a Postdoctoral Researcher on a TKI project entitled “Transcriptional networks up- and downstream of the negative regulators of plant immunity DMR6 and DLO1”, which is a collaboration between Utrecht University and the vegetable breeding company Enza zaden. The selected candidate will work under supervision of Prof. dr. Guido Van den Ackerveken at the Plant-Microbe Interactions group.

The project is aimed at further understanding plant disease susceptibility, a process that is both scientifically important as well as applicable in developing disease resistant crops. We previously identified several susceptibility (S) genes in the model plant Arabidopsis. Two of these S genes are DMR6 and DLO1 that are both activated during pathogen infection and in response to salicylic acid (SA). In wild type plants, the activation of DMR6 and DLO1 is thought to down-regulate the plant’s immune response, which would otherwise be too strong and inhibit plant growth. The oxidoreductases encoded by DMR6 and DLO1 have been shown to be SA hydroxylases that reduce the level of the immune hormone.

The aim of this project is to gain insight into the regulation of the DMR6 and DLO1 genes, the altered expression of plant genes in the dmr6 and dlo1 mutants and how that is linked to immunity and growth. Such knowledge is important to understand which defense pathways are triggered in the resistant mutants, and how DMR6 and DLO1 control this in wild-type plants.

The Postdoc project at Utrecht University will utilize RNA-Seq and bioinformatics to provide insight into regulatory mechanisms, as well as genetic approaches to understand the fine-tuning of plant defense.


We are looking for someone with:

  • a PhD in Molecular Biology/Bioinformatics, and/or Experimental Plant Sciences;
  • a strong background in genetic and molecular techniques, experience in RNA-Seq and bioinformatic analysis, and affinity with translational science;
  • excellent English oral, written and presentation skills.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The city of Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old center and an internationally oriented culture that is strongly influenced by its century-old university. Utrecht city has been consistently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the Netherlands.

The Faculty of Science consists of six Departments: Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Information and Computing Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry and Mathematics. The Faculty is home to 5,600 students and nearly 1,500 staff and is internationally renowned for the quality of its research. The Faculty’s academic programmes reflect developments in today’s society. Read the overall impression 2016 of the Faculty of Science.

The Plant-Microbe Interactions group of the Department of Biology aims to explore and exploit the plant’s natural immune system. Our research is focused on understanding the molecular and biological details of how pathogens infect plants, how resistant plants successfully defend themselves, and how beneficial microbes in the root microbiome promote plant growth and defense. The research goals are being achieved by using model and crop plant species in combination with state-of-the-art techniques and methods in Phytopathology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics. With our fundamental research we aim to provide a rational basis for developing sustainable strategies for disease resistance in next-generation crops.

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