PhD in Biochemistry of plant immune proteases (m/f/d)

Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB), Halle

In the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry, the independent research group Receptor Biochemistry invites applications for a

PhD in Biochemistry of plant immune proteases (m/f/d)

(Salary group E13 TV-L, part-time 65 %) 

in the DFG-funded Integrated Research Training Group of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) SNP2Prot "Plant Proteoform Diversity". The position is funded from 1 October 2024 to 30 June 2028.

Who we are:  

The Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB) is a non-university research institution of the Leibniz Association on the Weinberg Campus of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. As a foundation under public law, the IPB is under direct supervision of the state of Saxony-Anhalt. The IPB is an internationally recognized research institution and consists of four scientific Departments and additional independent research groups (approx. 200 employees, including around 40 doctoral students). Research at the IPB aims to understand the (bio)chemical basis of plant resilience and performance in challenging environments related to climate change. The IPB offers excellent research facilities and state-of-the-art infrastructure to study the chemical diversity, biochemical interactions and biological functions of small natural product molecules in plants and fungi (https://www.ipb-halle.de/en/). 

The Independent Research Group “Receptor Biochemistry” studies the interplay between proteases and receptors in immunity and develops the engineering of immune proteases for crop protection in an interdisciplinary, and highly stimulating scientific environment. Information about the research group and the IPB can be found on the homepage: www.ipb-halle.de

Research topic:

Impact of natural allelic variation on structure and function of the immune proteases SAP1 and SAP2 (C05)

Plant diseases caused by pathogens pose significant threats to ecosystem health and crop productivity globally. Plants have evolved an intricate immune system to combat these pathogens, including mechanisms to directly suppress their growth. Engineering plant responses offers a sustainable solution for crop protection, with direct growth suppression mechanisms being particularly promising due to minimal impact on plant growth. Arabidopsis secreted aspartic proteases (SAP1 and SAP2) have been identified as effective inhibitors of the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae (Pto) by cleaving the conserved bacterial protein MucD. These proteases are conserved across plant species and are promising targets for protease engineering in crop protection. This project aims to understand how discrete amino acid changes affect protease function and structure by studying natural variations in Arabidopsis SAP genes. Methods include heterologous expression, purification, and characterization of different proteoforms, as well as assessing their efficacy in bacterial growth suppression and substrate specificity. Structural analysis based on structural mass spectrometry (cross-linking MS, hydrogen-deuterium exchange and native MS) and computational modeling will provide insights into structure-function relationships and guide rational design of these proteases for crop protection. 

Your tasks: 

  • Production and purification from SAP proteoforms from E. coli
  • Generation of Arabidopsis sap1 sap2 lines complemented with SAP proteoforms
  • Elucidation of differences in protease biochemistry among SAP proteoforms
  • Elucidation of differences in MucD cleavage and Pto growth inhibition among SAP proteoforms
  • Presentation and publication of scientific data

The opportunity to obtain your own academic qualification as part of a doctorate is given.

Your profile: 

  • An excellent MSc degree (or equivalent) in biochemistry or biology
  • A strong interest in molecular mechanisms of plant-microbe interactions
  • Excellent English language skills (written and spoken)
  • Highly motivated to work in a cooperative manner within the CRC

Our benefits: 

  • Excellent working conditions in an international environment 
  • Flexible and family-friendly working hours and possibility of home-office 
  • Offer of professional training courses and measures for skill improvement 
  • Compensation according to TV-L (including annual special payment) 
  • Contribution to your company pension plan (VBL) 
  • On-site opportunities for health promotion 

How to apply and information: 

For application use the online application form at https://blogs.urz.uni-halle.de/snp2prot/.

In case of queries concerning the application process please contact: info(at)snp2prot.uni-halle.de, Tel.: +49 345 55-24834. For project-related questions please contact Dr. Mariana Schuster (mariana.schuster(at)ipb-halle.de; Phone: +49 (0) 345 5582 1720)

The submission deadline is June 30th, 2024

SNP2Prot currently provides additional free positions that you might be interested in. The online application form allows the simultaneous application for three projects of your individual preference. See an overview of all open positions here: https://snp2prot.uni-halle.de/positions/.

Foreign qualifications must comply with German standards (TV-L-EntgeltO Protokollerklärung Nr. 1 Absatz 4) and be certified (equivalence test in Germany, subject to a fee) and presented to IPB Human Resources at the time of hiring: https://www.kmk.org/zab/central-office-for-foreign-education

Diversity, family and equal opportunities: 

The IPB aspires to the goal of equal opportunity, diversity, and the promotion of work-life balance as it was awarded the certificate "Total E-Quality". In addition, the IPB is a member of the nationwide company network "Success Factor Family" and of the “Diversity Charter” (Charta der Vielfalt). 

Further information can be found at: https://www.ipb-halle.de/en/institute/ 

Data protection: 

Please note, the data protection information for applicants (m/f/d) according to Article 13 and 14 GDPR on data protection processing during the application process:  https://www.ipb-halle.de/en/career/data-protection-information-for-applicants/