Postdoctoral scholarship (2 years) to investigate the role of the circadian clock in plant - especially tree - growth and adaptation under abiotic stress

Umeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC) is one of the strongest research environments for basic plant research in Europe. Research at UPSC covers a wide range of disciplines in plant biology including ecology, genetics, physiology, biochemistry, cell biology and molecular biology (see

The postdoctoral fellowship is going to be placed at the Department of Plant Physiology, Umeå University, which is part of Umeå Plant Science Centre. Our common goal is to understand plant’s ability to adapt and acclimate to a changing world.

We are offering a postdoctoral scholarship in Dr. Maria E. Eriksson’s research group. We are looking for a motivated candidate who has interest in the research areas light reception, circadian regulation and abscisic acid (ABA) regulated stress responses. The scholarship refers to full-time studies for two years with starting date 1 September 2023 or according to agreement.

Project description

Most organisms have an internal mechanism that ticks with approximately, but not exactly, a 24-hour period and therefore the circadian clock is named after ‘circa diem’ which means approximately one day. This ‘clock’ is set to local time using regular diurnal changes in the environment such as light and temperature changes. The role of the clock is primarily to be able to predict changes in the environment in order to optimize an organism’s conditions for growth and development at the right time of day and year, e.g. daily production of biomass in both herbs and trees, as well as the timing of tree bud dormancy in autumn (Singh et al., 2020).

Timing of light-controlled processes such as chlorophyll biosynthesis is important for efficient photosynthesis, but also of carbohydrate production and cell division. We have previously been able to show that ZEITLUPE, a protein that controls light reception and circadian rhythm, is an important part of the mechanism that determines the leaves’ pores (stomata) openness (Jurca et. al., 2022). Stomata regulation is critical to balance plants’ gas, water and nutrient needs and thus plays a major role in photosynthesis and water management.

The main purpose of this project is to further explore how plants’ stomata are regulated with regard to light and circadian gene regulation using the hybrid aspen as a main model system. These studies will in the longer term create opportunities to increase trees’ stress resistance and growth as an effective carbon sink as well as source for e.g. materials and energy production.

The applicant will use and develop various new tools for analysis of gene expression, cytosolic calcium and regulation of stomata openness, in combination with biochemical and physiological analyzes of protein regulation and function. Some analysis will depend on using bioinformatics and/or image analysing techniques.


To be eligible as a postdoctoral fellow, a completed doctoral degree or a foreign degree deemed equivalent to a doctoral degree is required. This eligibility requirement must be met at the latest at the time when the decision on scholarship recipients is made. Priority should be given to candidates who completed their doctoral degree, according to what is stipulated in the paragraph above, no later than three years prior. If there are special reasons, candidates who completed their doctoral degree prior to that may also be eligible. Special reasons include absence due to illness, parental leave, appointments of trust in trade union organizations, military service, or similar circumstances, as well as clinical practice or other forms of appointment/assignment relevant to the subject area.

The scholarship candidate is expected to be independent as well as participating in the research group activities. You should be highly motivated and interested in the development of the project. Good ability to co-operate is required. You should be able to discuss and write articles in English, and good competence in written and spoken English is demanded.

The successful candidate will have a PhD degree, or equivalent, in Plant Cell and Molecular Biology, Plant Biotechnology, Systems Biology or a comparable subject. The candidate should also have a strong theoretical and practical background in Plant Cell and Molecular Biology.

  • molecular biology techniques for cloning
  • transformation of E. coli and plants
  • experimental work including screening and genotyping of plants with altered genes
  • RT‐qPCR gene expression studies
  • Cell biological studies of the stress responses of organisms/plants

Experience of time series data analysis and bioinformatics skills is a merit. The applicants practical experience should ideally comprise:

  • Fluorescence and confocal microscopy
  • time series analyses of plant gene expression through reporter genes
  • transient expression of epitope tagged proteins
  • Western blot analysis


The application should contain:

  1. A personal letter, max 2 pages, that describes qualifications, research interests, and motivation for the application,
  2. CV with full publication list,
  3. Copies of doctoral degree certificate and other relevant degree certificates and grades,
  4. Copy of doctoral thesis,
  5. Other documents wished to be claimed.

References will be requested prior to the potential interview.

Your complete application, marked with reference number FS 2.1.6-978-23, must be submitted as a pdf-document to (state the reference number as subject). The closing date is the 15th of July 2023.

Further information can be obtained from Dr. Maria Eriksson,

We look forward to receiving your application!