VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

Feeding the growing world population under changing climate conditions poses an unprecedented challenge on global agriculture and our current pace to breed new high-yielding crop varieties is too low to face the imminent threats to food security. The  ERC  project BREEDIT, aims for an expeditious evaluation of combinations of potential yield contributing alleles by unifying ‘classical’ breeding with gene-centric molecular biology.

The acronym BREEDIT,  a  word fusion of breeding and editing,  reflects the basic concept of combining breeding with multiplex genome editing of yield and growth-related genes.  By introducing plants with distinct combinations of genome-edited mutations in more than  60 known yield-related genes into a crossing scheme, the combinatorial effect of these mutations on plant growth and yield will be evaluated.

Subsequent rounds of crossings will increase the number of stacked gene-edits per plant,  thus increasing the combinatorial complexity. Phenotypic evaluations throughout plant development will be done on our in-house automated image-analysis-based phenotyping platform. The nature and frequency of Cas9-mediated mutations in the entire plant collection will be characterized by multiplex amplicon sequencing to follow the efficiency of  CRISPR-cas9  genome editing and to identify the underlying combinations of genes that cause beneficial phenotypes  (genetic gain).

The obtained knowledge on yield regulatory networks can be directly implemented into current molecular breeding programs and the project will provide the basis to develop targeted breeding schemes implementing the optimal combinations of beneficial alleles into elite material.

The selected postdoctoral fellow will work jointly with other post-docs and technicians, hired on the BREEDIT project, to perform the genetics and phenotyping. The postdoctoral fellow will design, perform, and evaluate experiments and assist with reporting.

The first review of applications will start immediately. A shortlist of applicants will be selected and invited for interviews.

The position remains open until a suitable candidate is found. The position can be started immediately.

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