Website Lund University

Lunds Universitet, Naturvetenskapliga fakulteten, Biologiska institutionen
Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top 100 universities. The University has 40 000 students and 7 600 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.
The Faculty of Science conducts research and education within Biology, Astronomy, Physics, Geosciences, Chemistry, Mathematics and Environmental Sciences. The Faculty is organized into nine departments, gathered in the northern campus area. The Faculty has approximately 1500 students, 330 PhD students and 700 employees.

Project description
Sap-sucking aphids represent a world-wide threat to agricultural crop productivity by inflicting direct damage and nutrient-deprivation to the host plants, but also by acting as major vectors for plant pathogens such as viruses. The research project aims to engineer aphid resistance into plants by genetic transfer of the biosynthetic pathway for iridoids, pheromones that atract aphid predators, into crops like rapeseed and camelina. Female aphids produce iridoid pheromones to attract male aphids to the plants they are colonising. However, the pheromones also attract predatory insects like green lacewings
(Chrysoperla sp.) that will effectively scavenge and remove aphid populations.
Additionally, iridoids have been recognised as having a range of beneficial properties for humans, including anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. Engineered plants producing significant amounts of iridoids can thus act as bio-factories of pharmaceutically relevant compounds. Overall, this project provides promising avenues for significant improvements in aphid resistance and iridoid production in plants, while contributing to our fundamental understanding of engineering novel pathways into plant species.

Specifically, the project aims to:

1) Develop plants attractive to aphid predators by genetic transfer of the iridoid pathway
2) Isolation and quantification of iridoids and intermediates to evaluate plant capacity as bio-factory
3) Assessment of the effect of plastid pathway perturbations on plastid biogenesis and function

Required qualifications

• Master in Molecular Biology, Biology or similar, with experience in molecular biology, genetics and plant physiology.
• Strong verbal and written communication skills in English.
• Highly motivated with strong ability to work independently as well as to collaborate within a research group.
• Practical experience in working with Arabidopsis thaliana or other Brassicaceae is of merit.
• Practical experience in molecular and biochemical techniques such as genotyping, sequencing, bioinformatics, PCR, RNA work, cloning, liquid chormatography or mass spectrometry is of merit.

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