Postdoctoral Researcher in Plant Biotechnology and Genome Editing

  • Contract
  • Anywhere

University of Amsterdam

Crispr/Cas technology has revolutionized plant biotechnology by making targeted genetic modifications possible. Are you fascinated by the seemingly unlimited potential of this technology, and do you want to contribute to its further development and apply it to broaden plant immunity? Then this may be the job for you!

The technology relies on the composition of a functional prime editor (a Cas nuclease-RT/pegRNA) complex inside plant cells. This complex can induce genome edits at the PAM-recognition site following the induction of single stranded DNA breaks that are repaired using the ssDNA produced by the RT, using the template sequence embedded in the pegRNA sequence. The design of the pegRNA determines the type of genome edit allowing the precise rewriting of genetic code in a plant. Expression of the pegRNAs from viral vectors makes the Virus Induced Prime Editing (VIPE) method versatile and evades the need of stable plant transformation. 

We are looking for a Postdoc candidate to further develop and optimize plant viral expression systems. The toolbox will be used to introduce targeted gene edits in marker genes and in immune receptors. The latter edits aim for an altered pathogen-recognition specificity of the resistance gene. The position is supported by a technician and the project is financed by a TKI-U grant and is part of a collaborative effort between the University of Amsterdam and a plant breeding company. 

If you enjoy working in an interdisciplinary research team and are eager to contribute to the development of plant biotechnological tools, then the Molecular Plant Pathology group , which is part of the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences in the Faculty of science at the University of Amsterdam, is the place to be. 

Research in our group aims at advancing fundamental knowledge of the interactions between plants and their pathogens, using state-of-the-art molecular methods in genetics, plant biology, genomics, cell biology, biochemistry, and microbiology. Together with societal partners we aim to translate fundamental knowledge and novel insights into solutions for societal problems. 

This project focusses on development of novel biotechnological tools to support our fundamental research and allow their use in non-model plant species to benefit trait discovery and lead validation.

What are you going to do?

Your main focus will be the development of prime editing nucleases and the use of viral expression systems for the transient expression of pegRNAs in various Solanaceae. The systems will be used to induce targeted genome edits in marker genes and genes encoding immune receptors. The ultimate aim is to alter the recognition specificity of immune receptors to revive resistances that have been overcome by newly evolving pathogens. The research will be performed both at the University of Amsterdam and at the research facilities of the industrial partner. You will be working with a technician and together you will take care of the execution of the project.  

Tasks and responsibilities: 

  • select and test different virus/host systems to transiently express reporter genes or pegRNAs in designated Solanaceae models;
  • develop a set of prime editors for stable expression in planta;
    targeted prime editing;
    perform your experiments in a systematic and well controlled manner and keep accurate records by properly documenting and organizing your work;
    be an active member of the research group and take responsibility for shared tasks. Discuss your work with the group members and during consortium meetings. Incorporate feedback and give input to others;
  • combine above systems to co-express prime editing nuclease and pegRNAs in planta for 
  • take a leading role in writing manuscripts and progress reports;
  • participate in the training program of the Experimental School of Plant Sciences;

You will get the opportunity to:

  • combine the advantages that a collaborative project offers, such as access to state-of-the art research facilities of both the academic and the private partner;  
  • present your results at (inter)national scientific meetings;
  • expand you academic, professional and personal skills;

What do you have to offer?

You are passionate about science and have a particular interest in plant biotechnology and plant pathology. You enjoy performing experimental lab work (e.g., molecular biology, virology, plant transformation and inoculation), as well as data analysis and using computational tools. You have a creative mind and look forward to work at the cutting-edge of technology. Finally, you are a team player and a pleasant colleague who enjoys being part of an interdisciplinary team of plant scientists. 

Your experience and profile 

  • a recent doctoral degree, preferably in molecular (plant) sciences or a related area in molecular biology, plant pathology or virology;
  • demonstrated hands-on experience with at least several of the following techniques: DNA cloning, CRISPR/Cas, plant pathology, sequencing, plant tissue culture, disease assays;
  • fluency in English, both written and spoken.  

Preferably, you have affinity with (confocal) microscopy and sequence data analyses. 

Our offer

We offer a temporary employment contract for 38 hours per week for a period of 12 months. Upon a good evaluation this will be extended with another 29 months. The preferred starting date is 1 September 2023 or sooner if possible.  

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2,960 to € 4,670 (scale 10). This does not include 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% year-end allowance. The UFO profile Researcher is applicable. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.

Besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment at Science Park we offer you multiple fringe benefits:

  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime);
  • multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre;
  • a pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution;
  • the possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;
  • help with housing for a studio or small apartment when you’re moving from abroad. 

Are you curious to read more about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits, take a look here .

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 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: Neurosciences, Cell & Systems Biology, Microbiology and Green Life Sciences.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:

         T: +31 205257795

Job application

If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the button below. We accept applications until and including 30 July 2023. 

Applications should include the following information (all files besides your cv should be submitted in one single pdf file):

  • a detailed CV including the months (not just years) when referring to your education and work experience;
  • a letter of motivation;
  • a list of publications;
  • the names and email addresses of two references who can provide letters of recommendation.

Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered.
The interviews will be held in the course of August 2023.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

If you encounter Error GBB451, reach out to our HR Department  directly. They will gladly help you continue your application. 

No agencies please.

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