Master thesis - Topic: Development and application of a whole-plant metabolic model to study resource allocation strat-egies in different environments

Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK), Gatersleben


The Metabolic Systems Interactions Group is looking for a Master’s student.

Different tissues and organs within the plant fulfil specific functions and the plant’s overall performance depends on optimized interactions between these different metabolic systems. But what are the best performance strategies in different environments and how could we possibly improve these interactions to develop crops for future climates? This project tackles this question by developing a whole-plant metabolic model modelling framework to simulate and analyse different resource allocation and growth strategies in dependence of a range of abiotic (light, water and nutrient availability) and biotic (herbivory, competition) factors. To this end, we will refine and further develop a recently built multi-organ whole plant model and use Flux Balance Analysis and related methods to predict time-resolved metabolic fluxes and perform growth simulations across the plant’s growth period. Analysis of these metabolic flux predictions shall elucidate constraints and capacities in plant growth and highlight different performance strategies in dependence of the environment. Furthermore, the model will be part of the PlantED computer game - an educational game in which the player develops optimal resource allocation strategies for the life of a plant.

Your qualifications and skills:

  • Knowledge in metabolic modelling and constraint-based optimization
  • Background knowledge in plant physiology and metabolism
  • Python knowledge
  • Good team player

We offer you:

  • Guidance and support by excellent scientist in a friendly environment.
  •  Remuneration as scientific student assistant for 6 months.
  • Accommodation on campus (liable to pay costs, upon request).
  • An interdisciplinary research environment at the intersection of plant sciences and computational biology
  • A friendly and productive working environment.

Project specific questions can be addressed to Dr. Nadine Töpfer (039482 - 5866).

What you need to know:

For us, your qualifications and strengths count. Therefore, everyone – independent from gender, origin, age, or possible disability – is welcome. The IPK is striving to increase the proportion of women in sectors where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages qualified women to apply. As an institution which has been awarded the Certificate for Career and Family (“berufundfamilie”), we offer family-friendly working conditions and flexible working hours. The IPK has set a goal to employ more people with disabilities. Qualified applicants with a disability will be given preference.

Your application:

We are looking forward to receive your complete application (letter of motivation, CV, certificates) as one single pdf-document via online-application. (http://www.ipk-gatersleben.de/stellenangebote) until 23.01.2022. If you have questions or require more information, please do contact Ms. Stefanie Dreßler (jobs(at)ipk-gatersleben.de). Please indicate the reference number 56/12/21 in your correspondence. Please note that incomplete application documents cannot be considered. Foreign qualifications must carry out an equivalence test in Germany, which is subject to a fee.This must be presented in the event of a later hiring:https://www.kmk.org/zab/central-office-for-foreign-education/statement-of-comparability-for-foreign-higher-education-qualifications.html