PhD Fellowship in Plant Metabolic Plasticity 2019-2022, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

University of Copenhagen


May 01, 2019

Opportunity Cover Image - PhD Fellowship in Plant Metabolic Plasticity 2019-2022, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

PhD fellowship in Plant Metabolic Plasticity 

A 3-year PhD fellowship is available at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (PLEN), Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The fellowship will commence 15 June, 2019, or as soon as possible thereafter.  

Scientific environment 

The Plant Metabolic Plasticity Group is led by Associate Professor Nanna Bjarnholt. The group works with specialized metabolites, also known as secondary metabolites or natural products, involved in plant defense, communication and stress response. Such compounds are traditionally viewed as end products with a single physiological function. We challenge this view and uncover metabolic grids allowing plants to fine-tune their allocation of resources between molecules of different functions according to their physiological state or in response to environmental challenges. The group is part of the Section for Plant Biochemistry at PLEN, where key technologies and instrumentation utilized in the group (metabolite profiling by LC- and GC-MS, Mass Spectrometry Imaging, molecular cloning and enzyme characterization in vitro and in planta) are established and accessible. 

Project description 

The fellowship will be part of a 5-year research project with the title ’Glutathione transferases in plant specialized metabolism’ (GSTspecial), awarded by the VILLUM Foundation to Associate Professor Nanna Bjarnholt. The glutathione transferases (GSTs) form a mysterious group of enzymes in plants, with many members in each species, several plant specific classes and very few assigned physiological functions. An increasing body of evidence suggests that a significant number of plant GSTs play roles in specialized metabolism. The project GSTspecial aims at elucidating such functions using a ‘guilt-by-association’ approach where the tissue and cell-specific localization of proposed GST substrates and products will be mapped using Mass Spectrometry Imaging. These results will be used to guide tissue and single cell type resolved transcriptomics experiments to identify gene candidates for characterization in vitro and in planta. The PhD fellow will join the project at a time where we are ready to clone and express the first candidate genes from the tropical crop plant sorghum. The downstream work will involve enzyme assays, and metabolite and plant characterization using metabolite profiling and Mass Spectrometry Imaging. In parallel, we will characterize other plants to identify possible targets for discovery of GST functions.  
Principal supervisor is Associate Professor Nanna Bjarnholt, and a post doc employed on the GSTspecial project (Huijun Liu) will be co-supervisor. 

Job description 

The position is available for a 3-year period and your key tasks as a PhD student at SCIENCE and the Section for Plant Biochemistry are to: 
  • Manage and carry through your research project by independently designing, executing and critically analyzing experiments under supervision 
  • Draft and submit research articles to peer-reviewed journals  
  • Present and discuss scientific data within the research group and the Section 
  • Attend PhD courses  
  • To stay at an external research institution for a few months, preferably abroad.  
  • Write and submit a high-quality PhD thesis  
  • Teach and supervise BSc and MSc students at courses and projects 
  • Disseminate your research results at conferences etc. 
  • Participate in Departmental and Section activities  
  • Execute GLP and ensure safety  

Formal requirements and assessment criteria  

Applicants should hold an MSc degree in biochemistry, biology or biotechnology or related fields with good grades and should have good English skills. In the assessment, we will focus on the perceived research potential of the applicant, the relevance of previous experience and the candidate’s personal qualifications. In addition to the formal requirements, relevant qualifications may include, but are not limited to:  
  • A strong interest in the research questions addressed by the group and the research project 
  • Experience with plant work, GSTs, analytical chemistry, molecular cloning and/or enzyme work 
  • Well-developed collaborative skills 
  • Motivation to contribute to a positive, open minded and productive working environment 
  • Documented research output, such as peer-reviewed publications 

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

This opportunity has expired. It was originally published here:

Eligible Countries
Host Country
Study Levels
Publish Date
March 24, 2019