skip to primary navigationskip to content

Research Assistant/Associate (Fixed Term) - Eves-van den Akker group

We invite applications for a post-doctoral research associate to join the Department of Plant Sciences in the area of Food Security and Plant Pathology. The appointee will join the newly established group of Dr Sebastian Eves-van den Akker.  Funding is available for three years from May 2018, with a flexible start date within the next year.

The research will be part of a BBSRC project entitled "The regulation of plant-nematode parasitism". Plant-parasitic nematodes have the fascinating ability to cause existing plant cells to re-differentiate into a novel tissue. What distinguishes them from many other plant pathogens is the presence of specialised gland cells that produce effectors. Discrete subsets of the effector repertoire are delivered into the plant in waves, over the course of several weeks. This project aims to understand this spatio-temporally controlled "parasitism programme": how the parasitism process is regulated over time, in the nematode and in the plant. We anticipate a small number of regulators that control the concerted action of a large number of effectors if we can disrupt the few regulators, we can simultaneously disrupt hundreds of effectors.

The successful applicant will build on the recent discovery of the "DOG box": a promoter motif that unifies hundreds of otherwise sequence-unrelated effectors that are expressed in the same gland cell. The DOG box is our first insight into the regulation of the parasitic process. The fact that a single DNA motif unifies these effectors, implies the existence of an associated master-regulator: likely a protein, or protein complex, which coordinates tissue specific-expression through sequence-specific binding to the DOG box. In a recent effort we have identified a transcription factor that binds a DOG box-containing promoter, in a DOG box-specific manner a strong candidate regulator. They will characterise the interaction between the DOG box and its putative regulator using molecular biology techniques (e.g. Y1H/Y2H, Co-immuno precipitation, RNAseq/ChIPseq, RNA interference, in planta infections) to answer the following questions: How does it work? Is it a positive or negative regulator? Does it work alone? Is it necessary for parasitism? What is the regulon?  In parallel, the group will work to identify and characterise additional regulators of expression in other tissues and times, ultimately to build a mechanistic understanding of the regulation of plant-nematode parasitism.

The successful applicant will work closely with a technician employed on the same project, and will be expected to have involvement in the training and supervision of PhD students and other researchers within the group. They will also have the opportunity to work with collaborators in the US for up to one month. The successful applicant will participate in the dissemination of research through publications and oral presentations both within the department and at conferences.

Applicants must possess, or have submitted a PhD by the time of appointment, in an appropriate area (e.g. plant-microbe interactions). Those who have submitted but not yet received their PhD will be appointed as a Research Assistant and amended to Research Associate when the PhD is awarded. Applicants must have excellent skills in scientific analysis and design, independent working and time management, as well as in oral and written presentation. Applicants should be skilled in wet-lab molecular biological techniques, while a basic understanding of dry-lab bioinformatics is an advantage but is not necessary. Good interpersonal skills and enthusiasm are essential. Exceptional early career researchers will be encouraged and mentored to apply for subsequent independent fellowships.

  • Salary: £25,728-£29,799 or £31,604-£38,833
  • Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3 years in the first instance.
  • Closing date: 26 April 2018
  • Download: Further particulars
  • You can apply online for this vacancy. You will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.
  • Please quote reference PD15123 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

Please notice that if you have not received any news from us 1 month after the closing date you should consider that on this occasion your application has not been successful.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.