Postdoctoral Researcher: Rewiring plant metabolic circuits

Ghent VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

17 Apr 2021


VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

Alain Goossens Lab



About the Lab

The VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology (PSB) is a world-leading plant science institute located at the heart of a renowned Plant Biotech campus in Ghent, Belgium. Its mission is to integrate genetics, genomics and bio-computing to unravel plant biological processes and to further translate this knowledge into value for society. Please visit us at for more information.

The lab of Prof. Alain Goossens at PSB, also called the Specialized Metabolism Group (, focuses on the characterization of plant signalling networks that steer plant specialized metabolism within tightly regulated fitness programs, in particular those modulated by the phytohormone jasmonate and leading to the biosynthesis of bioactive specialized metabolites. The fundamental knowledge generated can often be translated to the design of novel tools for synthetic biology programs oriented towards sustainable production of high-value plant metabolites.

Job description

A postdoc position funded by an EU H2020 Research and Innovation action is available in the group of Prof. Alain Goossens at the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology (PSB) and Ghent University, Belgium.

Within this position, you will be integrated into an international research consortium that aims at discovering innovative plant-derived cosmetic products and designing sustainable plant-based production sources for those. Our task in this consortium is to assemble a universal plant engineering toolset to increase both biomass and bioactive compound yields, and eventually engineer a number of plant species using the above toolset to create sustainable production sources of high-value plant metabolites, more specifically of innovative cosmetics.

Within this exciting setting, you will first work with model plants such as Arabidopsis and tomato to design and validate innovative plant metabolic engineering tools. This will also involve designing innovative CRISPR/Cas-based tools to rewire the plant signalling circuits that steer plant metabolism within tightly regulated fitness programs. Once such tools are validated, you will be involved in the actual engineering of yet-to-be-defined plant species producing innovative cosmetics. Because of the focus on plant signalling circuits within plant fitness programs, simultaneously essential novel fundamental knowledge will be generated.



  • You have a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Bio-engineering, Plant Biotechnology, or equivalent.
  • You have excellent English communication skills (both oral and written).
  • You can plan and conduct research independently and accurately.
  • You can function well in a team as you will be integrated into the international collaborative research environment of the EU consortium within which this topic is embedded, and of the VIB-UGent Center of Plant Systems Biology.
  • You can take initiative and have a hands-on mentality, perseverance and a critical mindset.
  • You have a keen interest in plant metabolism, plant engineering and synthetic biology.

Desirable but not required

  • Experience from Ph.D. and/or postdoc in CRISPR/Cas-based plant engineering and/or metabolic engineering is an asset as well as a publication record in peer-reviewed journals showing clear expertise in these areas.
  • Strong interest or hands-on experience in RNA sequencing or other NGS workflows is an asset.
  • Experience in guidance of master and/or Ph.D. students is an asset.

We offer

  • A full-time post-doc position in the Goossens lab for 2 years, with a possibility to extension for another 2 years.
  • An exciting and innovative project embedded in the EU H2020 Research and Innovation action ‘InnCoCells’, covering a fascinating combination of technologies and research interests, and aimed at discovering innovative high-value plant-derived cosmetic products and designing sustainable plant-based production sources for those.
  • Access to state-of-the-art tools and infrastructure within an excellence-based research institute.
  • A stimulating and supportive international research environment.
  • Various training opportunities are organized at VIB to broaden your expertise and skills (

How to apply?

If you are interested in rewiring plant metabolic circuits, please apply online (applications by email will not be considered).

Please include a single pdf in your application that combines the following elements:

  • A 1 –page motivation letter expressing interest in and suitability for the project
  • A 1-page summary of past research activities
  • A 1-page summary showing how your research experiences and interests are in line with those of the research topic
  • Detailed CV including publication list
  • Contact information of 2-3 referees

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

The position is available from May 1, 2021, onwards. Applications are welcome until the position is filled.