Early graduated PhD with interest in science communication and plant-microbe interactions

Ghent VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

01 Oct 2020


VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology

Sofie Goormachtig Lab



About the project

This position is part of the VIB Grand Challenge project: Catching rhizobia to introduce high protein containing soybean for a sustainable agriculture in Flanders.

This project aims to introduce soy as an alternative protein crop for sustainable agriculture in Flanders. To date, soy is mainly being imported from deforested areas in South American countries. This project will engage with 1000 citizens that will grow soy in their own gardens and participate to surveys. The soy plants will “capture” microorganisms that are necessary for nitrogen fixation and growth. These microorganisms will be identified through a platform combining bacterial isolation and microbiome analysis. 

In a next step, the nodulation capacity of the identified strains or consortia will be analyzed in lab and field nodulation experiments. By integrating data regarding soil type, microorganisms and soy variety, tailored guidelines will be offered to farmers to guarantee cultivation of soy with acceptable yield. Additionally, all data derived from the questionnaires and experiments will be used to raise the public awareness about the benefits of legumes and microbes and inform agro-food system actors about the power of legumes for a more sustainable agriculture.

About the position

We are looking for a highly motivated scientist who has an interest in science communication and is interested in the research domain ‘Plant-microbe interactions’. The researcher will perform experiments independently related to microbiome analyses and nodulation in the lab. At the same time, the researcher will be involved in the coordination and organization of the project between the different Grand Challenge partners and will be involved in the communication with the citizens.

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 www.psb.ugent.be for more information.

The Goormachtig lab, also called the rhizosphere lab, performs research in the area of beneficial plant microbe interactions. The lab has a long lasting experience in the molecular communication between rhizobia bacteria and legume plants, a research area in which this project is embedded. For more information.  https://www.psb.ugent.be/rhizosphere  or https://vib.be/labs/nl/node/11656


  • A junior PhD in Life Sciences or Bioscience-engineering
  • Strong interest or hands-on experience in plant microbe interaction research is an asset.
  • Strong interest in microbial ecology is an asset.
  • You love to take initiative and are a team player
  • You have a strong perseverance and critical mind-set
  • Proficient use of the Dutch and English language for both oral and written communication with scientists and citizens.
  • Organization and communication is a talent of yours.

We offer

  • A 2 year position (with a possible extension of 1 year)
  • Access to cutting-edge technologies and infrastructure within an excellence-based research institute.
  • A stimulating and supportive scientific environment

How to apply?

  • If you are interested, please complete the online application procedure, including a detailed CV and a motivation letter.
  • The position is available by January 1st. Applications are welcome until the position is filled.
  • Applications by email will not be considered.