Post – Doc position in Plant Molecular Genetics and Physiology in Brussels

Mechanisms of plant growth adaptation in extreme environments.


The position is available in the frame of a collaborative Research Projectbetween the University of Liège and the University of Brussels, funded by the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research FNRS:

A three years Post-Doc position to join the Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Molecular Genetics directed by Nathalie Verbruggen (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium)


The project will be conducted in collaboration with the teams of Lieven de Veylder (PSB, Ghent University) and Ann Cuypers (CMK, Hasselt University).

The candidates are expected to start as early as possible and by July 1st2018 at the latest.


Project and job description

The project aims at identifying mechanisms that allow growth of plants in extreme environments.

Response of plant growth to the environment usually occurs through regulation of meristem activity. Extreme environments such as soils highly polluted with metals are inhospitable to most life forms. However, some plants have adapted to survive and even thrive in these conditions. Hence, the pseudometallophyte Arabidopsis halleri exhibits hypertolerance to Zn and Cd and hyperaccumulates Zn up to 5% of shoot dry weight (SDW). The species exhibits a large variation in the traits and some populations can also hyperaccumulate Cd (up to 0.03 % SDW).

The evolution of A. halleri occurred independently in different genetic units in Europe and the project will take advantage of this genetic and phenotypic diversity(see our last publications DOI: 10.1111/nph.14949 and DOI: 10.1111/nph.14948).

The tolerance mechanisms in the root meristems of A. halleri will be examined upon Zn or/and Cd excess as well as Zn deficiency, in comparison with its close relative A. thaliana. Uptake, distribution and speciation of Zn and Cd will be determined in the root tips. The underlying reasons for growth inhibition under metal stress will be further mapped by detailed analysis of cell cycle checkpoints, with a focus on DNA damage. Finally, comparative transcriptomics of root tips will allow revealing potential specific features of the metal homeostasis/detoxification networks, as well as the impact of metallic stress on the cell cycle, in root meristem cells of two Arabidopsis relatives with very distinct metal physiology.

The Post-Doc will study tolerance to Cd (with or without Zn excess).



We are seeking candidates with strong background in (plant) molecular biology and/or genetics, as well as experience with the analysis of RNA-Seq data. The candidates should be fluent in English, have good ability to work in an interdisciplinary and international environment and have an excellent scientific record.

The Post-Doc position is opened to researcher that has not resided or carried out his/her main activity in Belgium for more than 24 months during the last 3 years.



Interested candidates should senda motivation letter, CV, contact details (with name, email, address, phone number) and at least 2 references and copies of relevant certificates (e.g. MSc, PhD, language) as a single pdf document to candidates) , by February 15 2018, or contact the same address with any question