PhD Researcher- Plant resistance to aphids in wild peppers

Botany (Plant Science
Aug 28, 2023 21:59:00 GMT+00:00
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Your Job

Are you a talented and driven individual interested in unraveling plant resistance mechanisms in the Capsicum genus against aphids? Are you eager to study aphid behavior, population growth, and molecular mechanisms of plant defenses? If so, we have an exciting PhD position available at the Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University.

Pepper plants have severe problems with aphid infestations. Improving natural host plant resistance is one of the key pillars in integrated pest management where we aim to reduce the dependency on insecticides. In this PhD, a diverse panel of wild pepper plants will be studied for their natural resistance mechanisms against the green peach aphid. In your approach you will study aphid behaviour and population growth with both high-throughput and in-depth techniques and you will use transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses to unravel the underlying molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways of plant defenses.This research project is in collaboration with three plant breeding companies and a biocontrol company and addresses fundamental questions to provide a basis for innovative developments in pepper crops. You will work closely together with a postdoc and a second PhD student and will be employed in a multidisciplinary team focused on insect-plant-microbiome interactions at the Laboratory of Entomology. Our team and laboratory offer a diverse and open-minded environment with both scientific and social activities. You will be involved as a teaching assistant for two courses per year and your personal development will be supported by an individual training and supervision plan of the graduate school Experimental Plant Sciences.

Your qualities

The ideal candidate must have the following qualities:

  • MSc degree in Biology, Plant Sciences or a related field with a specialisation in insect-plant interactions;
  • passionate about the behaviour of insects and the plant physiological and molecular responses they induce;

You also possess:

  • Enthusiasm to study plant defense mechanisms that affect aphids;
  • Enthusiastic in learning and applying statistical and machine learning methods to analyze complex biological datasets;
  • Experience and creativity with designing and executing bioassays with insects and plants;
  • Basic molecular skills, including real-time quantitative PCR;
  • Experience with data analysis and motivation to expand your statistical computing skills;
  • Interest to work at the interface of fundamental and applied science;
  • Motivation for supervising undergraduate students;
  • Team player capacities;
  • Initiative, pro-active attitude ;
  • Excellent communication skills and proficiency in English (both oral and written).

For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here.

We offer you

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.The gross salary for the first year is € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3.247,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 18th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research’s International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling. For instance under the “30% rule”, certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.

Do you want more information?

For more information about the contents of this position, please contact Dr. Karen Kloth, by email: karen.kloth@wur.nlFor more information about the procedure, please contact Noorien Abbas, Corporate Recruiter, by email:

Do you want to apply? You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.This vacancy will be listed up to and including 28 Aug 2023. We hope to schedule the first job interviews from 5 Sept 2023.

Equal opportunities Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are

Wageningen University & ResearchThe mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

You will work here The Laboratory of Entomology (ENT) focusses on the ecology of insects with an emphasis on understanding ecological aspects in the context of the underlying physiological and molecular mechanisms. ENT consists of a team of ambitious scientists and lecturers. The education programme focusses on BSc, MSc and PhD levels and includes ecological, physiological and molecular aspects.We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.