PhD position to study protein-lipid interactions in plant cells

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: ;

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.

What do we require
  • MSc in biochemistry/molecular cell biology;
  • strong background in protein/lipid biochemistry, and preferably also in molecular cell biology;
  • an outspoken interest and motivation to master new techniques and design, develop and test novel methods;
  • the ability to conduct a collaborative and multidisciplinary project, i.e. skills in communication, planning, organizing and coordinating your work;
  • excellent English writing and speaking skills.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended to a total duration of 4 years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2,395 in the first year to €3,061 (scale P) in the last year. This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here .


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

  • Dr. Teun Munnik , head Plant Cell Biology group,
    T. + 31 (0)20 525 7763 

About us

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS)  is one of the Faculty of Science’s largest institutes. Its approximately 240 scientists and staff members work in 16 research groups that perform excellent research centred on four themes: Cell & Systems Biology, Neurosciences, Microbiology and Green Life Sciences.

At SILS, research focusses on understanding the functioning of living organisms, from the most basic aspects up to complex physiological functions. Biological processes are studied at the level of molecules, cells, cellular networks and organisms, from man to plant and microbes. This leads to a fruitful knowledge exchange between various disciplines. Within SILS, the cluster of Green Life Sciences (GLS) hosts five plant groups, including Plant Cell Biology , Plant Physiology, Molecular Plant Pathology, Plant Hormone Biology and Plant Development & (Epi)Genetics, which aim to understand at the molecular level how plants grow and develop and deal with biotic- and abiotic constraints.

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 5 July 2021. You can apply online by using the link below. 

Applications in .pdf should include:

  • a motivation letter and cv;
  • contact information (name and email) of two academic referees.

no agencies please


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