PhD student: Characterization of novel interactors of the stress hormones jasmonic and abscisic acid

Updated: 3 months ago

About the lab

The group of Specialized Metabolism ( ), led by Prof. Alain Goossens at the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology, is looking to recruit 1 PhD student. The Goossens lab focuses on the characterization of plant signaling networks that steer plant specialized metabolism within tightly regulated fitness programs, in particular those modulated by the phytohormone jasmonate.

The Department of Plant Systems Biology (PSB) belongs to the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) and the Ghent University (UGent), both equal-opportunity employers. PSB is a world-leading plant science institute located at the heart of a renowned Plant Biotech campus in the lovely and lively city of 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 for more information.

Job description 

Plant phytohormones, such as jasmonate (JA), salicylic acid (SA) or abscisic acid (ABA), play crucial roles in the fitness programs that determine plant growth, development and survival in an often-hostile environment. Their perception machineries and signaling pathways have well been characterized, yet, typically our understanding of their biological relevance still reflects only part of the puzzle. That is why in our lab, we recently decided to adapt a novel technique for revealing protein-metabolite interactions, called limited proteolysis-coupled mass spectrometry (LiP-MS), for use in plants. LiP-MS offers a medium-throughput approach to map protein-metabolite interactions and thereby discover potential novel functions of bioactive metabolites. Indeed, an extensive LiP-MS screen carried out in our lab, with proteomes from different plant species and a suite of phytohormones, indicated that phytohormones may not only bind to their known canonical receptor proteins but also to a marked variety of other proteins, implicating unexpected and hitherto uncharacterized biological activities and roles. 

The PhD student will be closely involved in this project with the aim to evaluate the role of a set of potentially novel interactors of the phytohormones JA and ABA. The student will learn cutting-edge techniques in protein-metabolite interactions, proteomics, modelling, gene editing, microscopy and plant phenotyping. We expect the results of this project to reveal novel bioactivities for JA and ABA and establish new paradigm shifts in phytohormonal signaling pathways.



  • You have a master's degree in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Bio-engineering, Plant Biotechnology or equivalent.
  • You’re fascinated by plant hormone signaling, stress responses and defense mechanisms.
  • You can take initiative, function well in a team, breathe enthusiasm and have a hands-on mentality, perseverance and critical mindset
  • Proficient use of the English language for both oral and written communication is a must
  • Bioinformatics skills are not mandatory but nicely appreciated
  • A master thesis or past research experience with Arabidopsis and/or tomato is an asset

We offer
  • A full-time competitive stipend for 4 years, according to the Belgian law.
  • 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 to broaden your expertise and skills, including training and mentoring in scientific writing
  • Opportunities to attend scientific conferences and workshops.

How to apply?

If you are interested in studying novel protein interactors of phytohormones, please apply online via the Jobsoid portal (applications by email will not be considered).

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

  • a detailed CV (including publication list if applicable)
  • a one-page summary of past research activities (e.g. in your Master project)
  • a letter describing your fascination for the topic and the Goossens lab
  • the contact information of two 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 March 2024 onwards. Applications are welcome until the position is filled.

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