Postdoctoral Researcher: Metabolic Engineering of Multipurpose Nicotiana Crops with Genome Editing

Ghent VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

27 Nov 2017


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 pathways that steer the biosynthesis of high-value bioactive metabolites in crop, medicinal and model plants. Simultaneously, this group aims to generate new tools for the engineering of plant metabolic circuits towards the production of high-value bioactive metabolites that can be exploited by humans as drugs, therapeutics, nutraceuticals, pesticides, flavours, fragrances, cosmetics, etc.

Job description

The Goossens lab is looking to recruit a highly-motivated postdoctoral researcher, who will identify and characterise the genes that encode for enzymes catalysing missing steps in Nicotiana alkaloid biosynthesis. This knowledge will be used to engineer Nicotiana prototypes with altered alkaloid profiles and the capacity to deliver valuable speciality chemicals. The latter will also involve ‘organelle engineering’ to increase the biochemical potential of Nicotiana plants. This will be achieved with the use of the CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing technology. This project forms an integral part of the EU Horizon 2020 large-scale collaborative project Newcotiana that comprises research partners from all over Europe.

The ideal candidate will have a master and PhD degree in bio-engineering, biochemistry/biotechnology or molecular biology. A publication record in peer-reviewed journals, expertise in the areas of plant molecular biology, plant biotechnology, plant biochemistry, functional genomics, metabolic engineering and/or synthetic biology, as well as experience in guidance of master and/or PhD students are assets. The position is available from April 1, 2018 on. Applications are welcome until the position is filled.



  • Master and PhD degree in bio-engineering science, biochemistry, (molecular) biology or biotechnology
  • You can take initiative, function well in a team, and have a hands-on mentality, perseverance and critical mind-set
  • Proficient use of the English language for both oral and written communication
  • A publication record in peer-reviewed journals in the field of ‘animal and plant sciences’

Desirable but not required:

  • Expertise in the areas of plant molecular biology, plant biotechnology, functional genomics, proteomics, interactomics and/or plant-microbe interactions is an asset
  • Experience in guidance of master and/or PhD students is an asset

We offer

  • A 3-years postdoctoral researcher position
  • A working climate where trust, international collaboration, and commitment are essential
  • Access to state-of-the art tools and infrastructure within an excellence-based research institute
  • A stimulating and supportive international research environment
  • Interaction and networking within the EU-funded Newcotiana consortium
  • Various training opportunities to broaden your expertise and skills

How to apply?

If you are interested in performing high-quality science on developing multipurpose Nicotiana crops, please use the online VIB application tool.

Make sure your application includes:

  • A detailed CV
  • A one-page summary of past research activities
  • A one-page letter of intent describing how your research experiences and interests are aligned with those of the lab and research topic.
  • The names and contact details of 2-3 referees.

The position will be allocated as soon as a suitable candidate is found.