PhD position 'Intracellular control of intercellular communication during plant development'

Published on
October 13, 2021
Location Wageningen
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We are looking for

Are you looking for an interdisciplinary, fundamental PhD project in the field of plant science? Are you interested in exploring how plant cells and organelles communicate with each other? Do you have an affinity with cell biology and physiology? And do you want to do research in a multicultural and stimulating academic environment?  

We are looking for an enthusiastic and motivated PhD candidate to work on an interdisciplinary project to study the impact of inter-organellar signalling on inter-cellular communication. You will work in the departments of Plant Physiology and Cell Biology and combine a range of methods to unravel the long-distance developmental effects of chloroplast-to-nucleus signalling.

The chloroplasts in plant cells can send updates on their status towards the nucleus. This information is useful for example in stressful conditions, but these so-called retrograde signals also have a broader role in steering plant development. In this project, we aim to find out how these signals steer responses and development in distant plant cells via intercellular communication. Most of the work will be performed in the moss model species Physcomytrium patens, with translation of findings both from and towards Arabidopsis thaliana as well. The project is a unique collaboration between the research groups of Dr. Jeroen de Keijzer (Cell Biology) and Dr. Charlotte Gommers (Plant Physiology), as part of the Plant Science Group strategic plan. 

The research is embedded within the chairs Plant Physiology  and Cell Biology, and member of the Chloroplast Retrograde Signalling and Intercellular Communication teams, which are led by Dr. Charlotte Gommers and Dr. Jeroen de Keijzer  You will be co-supervised by Prof. Christa Testerink and Prof. Ben Scheres.

We ask

  • Have a successfully completed MSc degree in Plant Sciences, Molecular Biology, (Plant) Biotechnology or equivalent study.
  • Have excellent English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C2 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page.
  • Have hands-on experience in molecular biology. Experience in plant tissue culture is a plus.
  • Have a proven affinity with plant cell biology.
  • Have practical experience in, or willingness to learn ~omics data analysis and microscopy.
  • Work efficiently and accurately and are highly motivated to do fundamental research.
  • Are willing to contribute to teaching and mentoring of MSc and BSc students that work with you on the project.
  • Have strong communication skills.
  • Contribute to an open and inclusive atmosphere.

We offer

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our  Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.
The gross salary for the first year is € 2.395,- per month rising to € 3.061,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 16th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

More information

For more information about this position, please contact Charlotte Gommers or Jeroen de Keijzer, project leaders, by e-mail,

For more information about the procedure, please contact

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval. Applications by e-mail will not be considered.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including 7 November 2021. We hope to schedule the first job interviews in week 45 2021. The preferred starting date for this position is as soon as possible.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University and Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 6.800 employees and 12.900 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

Read the 5 reasons why your future collaegues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.

Apply now