PhD position focussing on organelle communication during plant biotic stress responses

Ghent VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

17 Dec 2020


VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

Inge De Clercq Lab



PhD position embedded in an ERC-StG COSI focussing on organelle communication during plant biotic stress responses

About the Lab/PSB

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 biocomputing to unravel plant biological processes and to further translate this knowledge into value for society. Please visit us at for more information.  

Dr. Inge De Clercq is starting up a new lab as of the 1st of February 2021 within the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology (PSB). Within the framework of an ERC Starting Grant, the new research group aims to understand how plant cells perceive environmental signals (e.g. from attack by pathogens) and translate this into appropriate defense responses. We will focus on studying the central role of intracellular organelles (mitochondria, chloroplasts, and the ER) in stress signal transduction, and uncover the mechanisms of how these organelles communicate with each other to coordinate and trigger optimal responses. To this end, we will use interdisciplinary approaches by combining cell biology, proteomics, interactomics, genetics, and bioinformatics.

Job description

An ERC Starting grant-funded PhD position is available in the group of Inge De Clercq at the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology (PSB) and Ghent University, Belgium.

You will study inter-organelle (between mitochondria, chloroplasts, and the ER) communication during the plant’s interaction with pathogens by implementing state-of-the-art cell biology and proteomics approaches. With the ERC-STG Grant, entitled “COSI: Understanding organelle communication through COntact SItes in plant stress responses”, we will be able to study the exciting hypothesis that organelles associate directly through stress-induced contact sites. With this exciting project, we seek to provide new mechanistic and functional insight into how signals are perceived and transduced between intracellular organelles and are translated into appropriate stress responses in the nucleus.



  • We are looking for a talented and highly motivated candidate with a master’s degree in Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Bioengineering, Biology, or another relevant field.
  • We expect the candidate to be able to plan and conduct research independently and accurately after initial training.
  • You have a keen interest in intracellular signal transduction, organelle/cell biology, and plant-pathogen interactions.
  • Excellent English communication skills are required.

Desirable but not required

A background in any of the following areas: molecular plant science, (advanced confocal) microscopy, proteomics, and methods to study plant-pathogen interactions is considered as an advantage.

Key personal characteristics

You should work well in a team as you will be integrated into the international research environment of the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology and participate in international collaborations.

We offer

  • A 4-year PhD position, divided into 2 times 2 years.
  • Also, you will become a member of the Doctoral Schools program at Ghent University, which will provide training and guidance.
  • An exciting and innovative project embedded in the ERC-STG 2020 grant ‘COSI’, covering an interesting combination of state-of-the-art techniques including cell biology (confocal microscopy), proteomics, molecular biology (protein-protein interactions, proximity labeling), genetic and transcriptomic approaches.
  • A multidisciplinary and highly stimulating and supporting international research environment.
  • Access to state-of-the-art tools and infrastructure.
  • Various (wet lab and bioinformatics) training opportunities are organized at the VIB to broaden your expertise and skills.

How to apply?

Motivated candidates are asked to apply online. Additional requirements:

  • 1 –page motivation letter expressing interest in and suitability for the project
  • CV (including publication list if applicable)
  • Contact information of 2 referees

In 1 pdf document.

The first review of applications will start immediately. A shortlist of applicants will be selected and invited for interviews. The position remains open until a suitable candidate is found.

For more information: please contact Dr. Inge De Clercq,
Applications by email will not be considered.