Skip to main content

This job has expired

Two junior postdocs: Discovery of bioactive metabolites in the chemical war between fungi and tomato

Closing date
27 Feb 2024

View more

Life Science
Job Type
Employment - Hours
Full time
Professional certification

Job Details

Junior postdoc: Discovery, characterization and production of novel bioactive metabolites by exploiting the chemical warfare during tomato-fungi interactions About the lab The group of Specialized Metabolism (, led by Prof. Alain Goossens at the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology, is looking to recruit 2 junior postdoctoral researchers, within the frame of a large-scale collaborative project with the research groups of Prof. Kris Audenaert ( and Prof. Marjan De Mey (, both located at the UGent Faculty of Bioscience Engineering. 

The Goossens lab focuses on the characterization of plant signaling networks that steer plant-specialized metabolism within tightly regulated fitness programs, in particular those modulated by stress hormones.
Using state-of-the-art spectral imaging tools, the Audenaert lab investigates abiotic and biotic stresses in plants and explores innovative approaches to mitigate them or reduce their impact on plant yield and quality. The De Mey lab focuses on the development of standardized, automatable, and generic tools and technologies envisioning a considerable reduction in the cost of biotechnological production processes and the acceleration of their development.

The Department of Plant Systems Biology (PSB) belongs to the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) and the Ghent University (UGent), both equal-opportunity employers. PSB is a world-leading plant science institute located at the heart of a renowned Plant Biotech campus in the lovely and lively city of Ghent, Belgium. Its mission is to integrate genetics, genomics and bio-computing to unravel plant biological processes and to further translate this knowledge into value for society. Please visit for more information. Ghent University is a world of its own. Employing more than 9,000 people, it is actively involved in education and research, and technical and social services daily. It is one of the largest, most exciting employers in the area and offers great career opportunities. 

Job description  Chemical communication via specialized metabolites determines interactions between fungi and plants. Fungi possess a metabolite treasure trove, with potent applications for agriculture and human health, yet the vast majority await discovery, typically because their biosynthesis is silent in lab conditions. Within this project, we will establish an innovative plant-based platform to discover, study and produce yet unknown fungal metabolites. The plant-based platform will be designed based on novel, paradigm-shifting insights acquired during our past research on plant defense. As such, we expect it will offer unprecedented possibilities to activate and study fungal metabolism. 

This research is framed within a large-scale collaborative project involving the Goossens, Audenaert and De Mey groups, all located at Ghent University. The postdoctoral scientists will occupy key positions in this project, being (1) responsible for launching and conducting groundbreaking science within the project, (2) active within at least two of the partners' labs and (3) involved in the mentoring of PhD students to be hired later during the project. More specifically, the first postdoctoral scientist will be executing and driving cutting-edge research in plant molecular biology and plant immunity. This will involve technologies such as protein interactomics, CRISPR/Cas-based gene editing in plants, transcriptomics, and microscopic- and macroscopic characterization of (infected) tomato plants. Conversely, the second postdoctoral scientist will be executing and steering innovative experimentation with a more specific focus on microbial (fungal) metabolism, metabolomics and synthetic biology. This will involve technologies such as (un)targeted metabolite profiling, bioactivity assays, CRISPR/Cas-based gene editing in fungi, and synthetic biology in prokaryotic and/or eukaryotic microbes.

  • You have a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Bio-engineering, Plant Biotechnology, Microbiology or equivalent
  • You have maximum 3 years of postdoctoral research experience
  • You’re fascinated by plant-fungi interactions, plant immunity, regulation of metabolism, metabolites and/or synthetic biology
  • You can plan and conduct research independently and accurately
  • You can take initiative, function well in a team, breathe enthusiasm and have a hands-on mentality, perseverance and critical mindset
  • You have excellent interpersonal skills, to work effectively with team members from different backgrounds and in different research areas
  • Proficient use of the English language for both oral and written communication is a must
Desirable but not required
  • International experience from PhD and/or postdoc research in plant-microbe interactions, plant immunity, plant or microbial metabolism, metabolomics, and/or synthetic biology is an asset, as well as a publication record in peer-reviewed journals showing expertise in these areas.
  • Experience in guidance of master's and/or PhD students is an asset.
We offer
  • A full-time competitive salary for a postdoc position for 3 years, according to the Belgian law, with a possibility to extension with another 2 years.
  • An exciting and innovative project embedded in a multidisciplinary consortium
  • Access to state-of-the-art tools and infrastructure within an excellence-based academic research institute
  • A stimulating and supportive international research environment
  • Various training opportunities to broaden your expertise and skills, including training and mentoring in scientific writing
  • Opportunities to attend scientific conferences and workshops.
How to apply? 

If you are interested in discovering and studying novel bioactive fungal metabolites, please apply online via the Jobsoid portal (applications by email will not be considered).

Please include a single PDF in your application that combines the following elements:

  • a detailed CV (including publication list if applicable)
  • a one-page summary of past research activities (particularly in your PhD project)
  • a letter describing your fascination for the topic and the Goossens/Audenaert/De Mey labs
  • the contact information of two referees

The first review of applications will start immediately. A shortlist of applicants will be selected and invited for interviews.

The position is available from April 2024 onwards. Applications are welcome until the position is filled.


VIB’s core mission is to generate disruptive insights in the molecular underpinning of life and to translate these actively into impactful innovations for patients and society. VIB is an independent research institute where some 1,800 top scientists from Belgium and abroad conduct pioneering basic research. As such, they are pushing the boundaries of what we know about molecular mechanisms and how they rule living organisms such as human beings, animals, plants, and microorganisms. Based on a close partnership with five Flemish universities – Ghent University, KU Leuven, University of Antwerp, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Hasselt University – and supported by a solid funding program, VIB unites the expertise of all its collaborators and research groups in a single institute. VIB’s technology transfer activities translate research results into concrete benefits for society such as new diagnostics and therapies and agricultural innovations. These applications are often developed by young start-ups from VIB or through collaborations with other companies. This also leads to additional employment and bridges the gap between scientific research and entrepreneurship. VIB also engages actively in the public debate on biotechnology by developing and disseminating a wide range of science-based information. 

More info can be found on

Company info
Rijvisschestraat 120

Get job alerts

Create a job alert and receive personalised job recommendations straight to your inbox.

Create alert