Leiden University

Postdoc, Improving growth and salt tolerance of crop plants (Marbles)

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Leiden University was founded in 1575 and is one of Europe’s leading international research universities.

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The Faculty of Science / the Institute for Biology is looking for a:

Postdoc, Improving growth and salt tolerance of crop plants (Marbles)

Vacancy number 21-608

Project description

Soil salinity has emerged as a serious yield-limiting factor for global food security. The uptake of high amounts of salt inhibits diverse physiological and metabolic processes in plants thereby impacting their survival, growth and yield. Economically important crop plants, will be challenged with different marine microbiomes and subjected to dilution-to-extinction experiments to identify the minimal microbiome needed to confer salt tolerance. To this end, microbiome-challenged plants will be grown hydroponically in the greenhouse and exposed to different levels of salt stress. The composition of the microbiome associated with the plant roots will be monitored by 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing and metatranscriptome analysis to identify BGCs activated under salt stress and associated with the salt tolerant plant phenotype. Furthermore, the host mechanisms involved in the adaptation to the extreme salt environments mediated by the microbiome, will also be measured by transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses in the plant. Following the bioassays and ‘omics-based analyses, key players in the minimal microbiomes will be identified using co-occurrence and co-expression networks analysis followed by isolation, characterization and functional validation. Altogether, this will contribute to the understanding of the frequency of osmo-adaptation in marine microbiomes and how members of the marine microbiome can improve crop resilience to abiotic stress.

Key responsibilities

  • Plan and conduct research activities (incl. establishing new molecular techniques)
  • Present your work at (inter)national meetings and publish scientific articles
  • Team player
  • Willing to join an international project team of researchers: Dr. Víctor J. Carrión Bravo and Jos M. Raaijmakers.
  • Co-supervise graduate students

Selection Criteria

  • PhD degree in molecular plant-microbe interactions, molecular microbiology
  • Demonstrable experience in molecular microbiology, mutagenesis (e.g. Crispr-Cas) and functional analyses.
  • Experience with microbiome data mining, metagenomics and (bio)chemistry will be of added value
  • Willing to work at two different locations
  • Language skills: fluency in English writing and speaking required

Research at our faculty

The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organised in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2300 {see https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/wiskunde-en-natuurwetenschappen} staff and almost 5000 {see https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/wiskunde-en-natuurwetenschappen} students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

For more information, see  www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/science  and  https://workingat.leiden.edu/

The Institute for Biology

The research within the Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL) aims to work on the science base of biodiversity and health, which is reflected in our leading principle Harnessing Biodiversity for Health. We perform innovative curiosity-driven research to answer fundamental questions, and solutions-driven research to help solving major societal challenges. The latter include protecting nature’s biodiversity, creating sustainable biotechnology and agriculture and increasing good health. Our research focuses on four Research Themes: Bioactive Molecules, Host-Microbe Interactions, Development & Disease and Evolution & Biodiversity. Located in a thriving scientific environment with our Faculty of Sciences,  Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, the Leiden University Medical Centre and the Leiden Bioscience Park, IBL offers an exciting, internationally oriented and inclusive place to work and study.  

Terms and conditions 

We offer a full-time position, for initially one year with a possibility for extension. Salary range from € 3.270,- to € 3.548,- {see https://www.staff.universiteitleiden.nl/human-resources/conditions-of-employment-salary-and-allowance/salary/salary-scales-and-periodic-rise/science/fnw-board-office?cf=science&cd=fnw-board-office} gross per month (pay scale 10.3 – 10.5 in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Enquiries can be made to  Ass. Prof. Dr. Víctor J. Carrión Bravo or Prof. Dr. Jos M. Raaijmakers . If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact Sylvia Maas (jobs@biology.leidenuniv.nl).


To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to jobs@biology.leidenuniv.nl. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents (combined in a single pdf file) quoting the vacancy number:

  • Cover letter
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Two reference letters

Only applications received before 20-12-2021 can be considered.

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Job details

Postdoc, Improving growth and salt tolerance of crop plants (Marbles)
Rapenburg 70 Leiden, Netherlands
Application deadline
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