PhD position, Molecular mechanisms of bud-dormancy of trees

Updated: 5 months ago

The Faculty of Science is seeking to fill a full-time (100%) vacancy in the Department of Biology for a

Doctoral student in the area of molecular mechanisms of bud-dormancy of trees: unraveling winter sleep to understand spring reactivation - improved understanding of leaf out phenology in temperate deciduous trees by gaining insight in environmental controls of bud dormancy.

Research project

By affecting the uptake of carbon and the transpiration of water by forests, leaf phenology (the seasonal timing of leaf development) does not only affect tree growth but it also influences local weather and long-term climate change. Despite a wealth of observations of the date that leaves appear in spring, this process is still not fully understood. Leaf out can occur at very different moments in spring, despite similar spring weather. Part of the reason is that spring leaf out is only the end point of an entire winter of bud responses to cold temperatures, to warm temperatures, and to changes in day length. To fully understand the climatic controls over spring phenology insight is needed into what happens during the winter, when buds are apparently asleep. Therefore, we will conduct experiments in which temperature and day length will be altered, and throughout the entire winter, we will monitor changes in gene expression, in metabolite concentrations, and dormancy depth. The aim is to advance insight in spring phenology, but also to identify genes or metabolites that could give information on the state of dormancy during winter, and thereby on the bud's sensitivity to spring warming. The work will be carried out in PLECO and IMPRESS groups of the University of Antwerp and in collaboration with CzechGlobe and Greifswald University .

Job description

  • You prepare a doctoral thesis in the field of physiology of tree buds. Within the project, metabolomics, primarily, but also transcriptomics approaches will be used to study the mechanisms determining the duration/depth of winter dormancy of buds of temperate deciduous trees and their responsiveness to the environment (e.g. temperature and day length). The tree material will come from field experiments in manipulated environment (e.g. warming, increased day length).
  • You contribute to teaching and research in the Department of Biology.

Profile and requirements

  • You hold a master degree in Biology, Bio-engineering, Biochemistry or a very similar field.
  • You can demonstrate excellent academic results.
  • You have experience or proved skills with experimental work in growth chambers (e.g. following leaf and buds development), laboratory / analytical work (e.g. metabolomite analyses) and, especially, data analysis skills (e.g. handling of large datasets, statistics, bio-informatics). Note that data analysis will be the most important of your duties.
  • Students in the final year of their degree can apply if the degree is awarded this academic year, i.e. before October 1, 2019.
  • The focus in your teaching corresponds to the educational vision of the university.
  • Your academic qualities comply with the requirements stipulated in the university’s policy .
  • You are quality-oriented, conscientious, creative and cooperative.
  • You will be based in Antwerp but willing to do multiple stays (up to four months per year) in CzechGlobe (Czech Republic) and shorter stays at Greifswald University (Germany).

We offer

  • a doctoral scholarship for a period of four years;
  • the start date of the scholarship: October 1, 2019.
  • a gross monthly grant ranging from € 2.373,36 - € 2.516,73;
  • reimbursement of public transport or a bicycle allowance;
  • a dynamic and stimulating work environment.

How to apply?

  • Applications may only be submitted online , until the closing date 15 July 2019. Please submit CV, letter of motivation and two references for recommendations.
  • A pre-selection will be made from amongst the submitted applications. The remainder of the selection procedure is specific to the position and will be determined by the selection panel.
  • The interviews of the candidates, preselected by a selection panel, will take place on mid-late July 2019.
  • More information about the application form can be obtained from vacatures@uantwerpen.be .
  • For questions about the profile and the description of duties, please contact Prof. Han Asard (han.asard@uantwerpen.be ), for the molecular part, or Prof. Matteo Campioli (matteo.campioli@uantwerpen.be ), for the ecological background.

The University of Antwerp is a family friendly organization, with a focus on equal opportunities and diversity. Our HR-policy for researchers was awarded by the European Commission with the quality label HR Excellence in research .

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