Doctoral Degree Research in Biological Sciences, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

Expires on: 03/17/2024


The project evolves around the search for, and the characterisation of, plant components that control the root rhizosphere environment. Billions of microbes inhabit this environment and help plants to grow and stay healthy. Plants impact the rhizosphere environment by exudation of compounds that change the chemistry of the soil and provide energy for the microbes. The exact nature of these compounds, their role in attracting and accommodating microbes, and how they are regulated are mostly unknown. We believe that in order to use the plant microbiome to its full potential in sustainable agriculture, it is important to reveal and better understand the role of these compounds.

In this PhD project you will leverage a collection of transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants (a model plant for plant-microbe and plant-microbiome research) that express a class of transcription factors, called MYBs, that are linked to exudation. We will use automated phenotyping to characterise transgenic plants with elevated expression of these MYBs, and we will evaluate how these plants attract and accommodate beneficial microbes using diverse ‘omics techniques including microbiome profiling and transcriptomics.


  •  a MSc in the area of plant and/or microbe biology, plant biotechnology, or any other plant/microbe-related science field;
  • experience in plant biotechnology or microbiology techniques, preferably in the context of plant microbiome research;
  • an excellent command of both written and spoken English;
  • good communication and organisation skills.

Experience with plant-microbiome research, and plant genotyping and phenotyping is an advantage. For the bioinformatic analysis of large ‘omics data sets, programming skills are an advantage.

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