PhD position to study protein-lipid interactions in plant cells

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 25 Jun 2021

4-years PhD position to study lipid-protein interactions in the plant’s response to cold stress.

Universally, cells use signaling lipids, like phosphatidic acid (PA) and phosphoinositides, to regulate responses to extracellular cues. These responses rely on specific lipid-protein interactions. While PA is recognized as a signal of environmental stresses in plants, little is known of its protein targets that transduce the signal. Our aim is to fill this gap by engineering light-controllable lipid probes to systematically map PA-protein interactions in living cells, using a combination of chemical biology, mass spectrometry, molecular biology, biochemistry, and cell biology.  

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD student to set up this innovative method and use it to study PA-binding proteins in the plant’s response to cold. The results will help to better understand essential lipid-protein interactions in cell signaling, and may ultimately guide breeding strategies for cold-tolerant crops.

The PhD research will be mainly carried out at the Plant Cell Biology group of dr. Teun Munnik, who will, together with dr. Steven Arisz, function as supervisors. The Munnik lab has a long-standing reputation in studying lipid signaling in plants. The research relies on a multi-institute collaboration within the UvA Science faculty.

What are you going to do?

In the first part of the project, you will develop and test chemically engineered-phospholipid probes. This will involve a range of state-of-the-art chemical, microscopic and other techniques, using in vitro and in vivo systems. In the second part, you will use the probes to map the PA interactome of Arabidopsis during cold stress using MS. Selected proteins will be further tested by biochemical/ genetic/physiological approaches. You will work in close collaboration with several disciplines at the UvA Science Faculty, including departments of organic chemistry, mass spectrometry and molecular cytology, and the project will provide excellent multi-disciplinary training opportunities.

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