VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

Junior postdoc: Discovery, characterization and production of novel bioactive metabolites by exploiting the chemical warfare during tomato-fungi interactions

Chemical communication via specialized metabolites determines interactions between fungi and plants. Fungi possess a metabolite treasure trove, with potent applications for agriculture and human health, yet the vast majority await discovery, typically because their biosynthesis is silent in lab conditions. Within this project, we will establish an innovative plant-based platform to discover, study and produce yet unknown fungal metabolites. The plant-based platform will be designed based on novel, paradigm-shifting insights acquired during our past research on plant defense. As such, we expect it will offer unprecedented possibilities to activate and study fungal metabolism.

This research is framed within a large-scale collaborative project involving the Goossens, Audenaert and De Mey groups, all located at Ghent University. The postdoctoral scientists will occupy key positions in this project, being (1) responsible for launching and conducting groundbreaking science within the project, (2) active within at least two of the partners’ labs and (3) involved in the mentoring of PhD students to be hired later during the project. More specifically, the first postdoctoral scientist will be executing and driving cutting-edge research in plant molecular biology and plant immunity. This will involve technologies such as protein interactomics, CRISPR/Cas-based gene editing in plants, transcriptomics, and microscopic- and macroscopic characterization of (infected) tomato plants. Conversely, the second postdoctoral scientist will be executing and steering innovative experimentation with a more specific focus on microbial (fungal) metabolism, metabolomics and synthetic biology. This will involve technologies such as (un)targeted metabolite profiling, bioactivity assays, CRISPR/Cas-based gene editing in fungi, and synthetic biology in prokaryotic and/or eukaryotic microbes.

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