PhD - Light quality and physiological control of plant photosynthesis and growth

Published on
March 13, 2018
Location Wageningen
Scientific field Agriculture
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We are looking for

You will investigate how manipulation of plant growth by light and temperature interact with plant biotic and abiotic stress resilience for applications in greenhouses. You will investigate how LED/temperature treatments influence plant photosynthesis, growth and development, aiming at the discovery of combined light & temperature strategies that are optimal for plant growth and development as well as for resilience against abiotic (light) stress and pests.

In the HPP part of this project ‘LEDs make it resilient’ you will make use of insights obtained in previous studies on the interaction between light quality x temperature aimed at understanding the physiological regulation of compact plant growth in greenhouses as well as of vast experience in measuring photosynthesis and of applying LED-technology in Plant Production Systems. You will be able to make use of our unique plant growth facility that allows for mimicking spectral daylight and intensity profiles (as well as altering them with additional LED-illumination) in a further strict climate -controlled growth chamber without natural daylight. You will integrate this with photosynthesis measuring systems, based on measuring gas exchange as well as chlorophyll fluorescence and develop and execute experiments to investigate the impact of temperature, light intensity and light quality on young plant growth and development as well as on their defence systems against abiotic light stress and pests. You will use the acquired knowledge to develop and test protocols for physiological growth control in close collaboration with other arresearchers aiming at optimal production of resilient plants without the necessity to use additional chemicals.

We ask

For this research project, we seek a PhD candidate with an MSc degree in Plant Sciences, Plant Biology or a related discipline; experience in experimental and environmental plant physiology is expected; a proven ability to develop experimental methodology related to environmental plant physiology is expected as well as the ability to think in physiological and molecular concepts; interest in fundamental research; ability to work independently within a multidisciplinary team and organisational skills, completed by well-developed (English) communication and writing skills are expected.

The PhD candidate will have close interaction with two other PhD-students to be appointed for this program at the laboratories of Plant Physiology and Entomology. Although the focus of this PhD-candidate will be on environmental and experimental plant physiology with a clear link to horticulture, he/she should be well capable to translate practical horticultural issues to underlying fundamental questions and communicate well with both the companies and fundamental researchers involved in this program.

We offer

We offer a full-time position (38 hours), initially for 1 year after which a go/no-go decision will be taken on an extension with another three years. Gross salary per month € 2222,- in the first year rising to € 2840,- per month in the fourth year, for a fulltime appointment. The candidate will be based at the group Horticulture and Product Physiology in Wageningen

More information

Information on the research: Dr ir Wim van Ieperen (; +31 317 483031) or Prof dr ir Leo Marcelis (; +31 317 48675)
Information on the selection procedure: Mrs Eva Siebelink (

You can apply up to and until 2 April 2018
For this position, you can only apply on line:

Don't email your application directly to the people mentioned above but use the website to apply.

We are

The group Horticulture and Product Physiology (HPP) is part of the Plant Sciences Group of the Wageningen University and Research Centre and aims to contribute to the exploration and exploitation of plants in horticulture. We study how physiological processes in plants interact with their abiotic environment and how this affects crop production and product quality. Using a systems analytical approach, questions from horticultural practice are translated into fundamental research topics, aiming to explain mechanisms.

One of our aims is to contribute to the understanding how a plant translates environmental signals into decisions between investments of resources into growth and abiotic stress factors. Our insights find their application in the manipulation of plants in greenhouses to stimulate plant production and to improve their biotic and abiotic stress resilience when needed, through light and temperature treatments. LED (Light-Emitting Diode) technology provides exciting new opportunities, not only to reduce energy inputs but may also be used to increase primary production and improve sustainable pest control. In an integrated program called ‘LEDs make it resilient’, involving our group (HPP) and the laboratories of Plant Physiology (PPH) and Entomology (ENT) at Wageningen University we will study the effects of precisely timed variations in light quality and temperature on tomato transplant photosynthesis, growth, development aiming at finding optimal lighting and temperature strategies for plant growth and development and resilience to light stress and pests. The research will be executed in close collaboration with two other PhD-students: one at PPH, who will focus on molecular responses of the plants and one at ENT, who will focus on leaf pest resilience. The integrated insights should lead to novel growth protocols for greenhouses.

Wageningen University and Research Centre.
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