PhD Position - Investigating nutrient dependent dynamics of TOR-SnRK1 signaling in plants

Ghent VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

28 Sep 2020


VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

Geert De Jaeger Lab



About the lab

The VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology (PSB) is a world-leading plant science institute located at the heart of a renowned Plant Biotech campus in the wonderful city of Ghent, Belgium. Its mission is to integrate genetics, genomics, proteomics and bio-computing to unravel plant biological processes and to translate this knowledge into value for society. Please visit us at for more information.

The lab of Prof. Geert De Jaeger at PSB, also called the Functional Interactomics Group (, focuses on the continuous development and optimization of interactomics tools for plant research, more specifically for the discovery of protein-protein interactions and interactions between proteins and nucleic acids. At the core of this technology lie powerful proteomics approaches as affinity purification coupled to mass spectrometry (AP-MS) and proximity labelling, enabling proteome-wide investigation of interactions that occur inside plant cells. 

The lab implements these interactomics tools to gain insight on how cell growth and proliferation are regulated in plants, and as such discover new avenues to engineer plant growth. Many signalling pathways impinge on the growth and proliferation of cells in plants. However, signalling pathways involving key growth regulators such as nutrients (sugars, nitrate, phosphate) remain to a large extent still elusive in plants. To broaden our knowledge in these nutrient signalling pathways, we are studying the molecular networks involving the Target Of Rapamycin (TOR) and SNF1-related (SnRK1) kinases, two ancient master regulators that integrate nutrient signalling with plant growth.

Your project

The candidate will be involved in an exciting, multidisciplinary project funded by the FWO that aims to map and functionally characterize the nutrient dependent dynamics in the TOR and SnRK1 signalling networks. Through integration of interactomics and phosphoproteomics, we have a unique dataset at hand that awaits further functional validation. 

The candidate will take part in the follow-up of this exciting project, providing higher resolution to the network by analysing temporal, spatial and structural changes in the network upon nutrient perception. Hereto, the candidate will use a variety of state-of-the-art proteomics methods covering differential AP-MS, proximity labelling, crosslinking MS and limited proteolysis. 

For the downstream functional analysis, the candidate will combine in vitro biochemical/biophysical assays (e.g. kinase assays, MST), cellular assays (e.g. transactivation assays) and plant genetics (multiplex CRISPR, overexpression lines, reporter lines), to address the fundamental questions how these kinases sense their internal and external environment and translate this information into appropriate growth decisions. 

During the whole project, the candidate will have access to cutting-edge technologies present at PSB and at the VIB core facilities.


  • Master degree in Bioscience-engineering or Life Sciences.
  • Strong interest or hands-on experience in plant research is an asset
  • You can take initiative, function well in a team, and have a hands-on mentality, perseverance and critical mind-set
  • Proficient use of the English language for both oral and written communication

We offer

  • A 4-year PhD position
  • Access to cutting-edge technologies and infrastructure within an excellence-based research institute
  • A stimulating and supportive international research environment
  • Various training opportunities to broaden your expertise and skills

How to apply?

If you are interested, please complete the online application procedure, including a detailed CV and a motivation letter.

The position is immediately available. Applications are welcome until the position is filled.

Applications by email will not be considered.