PhD student Plant metabolomics

Published on
June 5, 2018
Location Wageningen
Scientific field Agriculture
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We are looking for

The project is centred around the crop white Asparagus and is focused on 1) advancing our knowledge of identifying the key metabolites present in the crop which contribute to flavour and fragrance; 2) determine which biochemical pathways are involved, where in the shoots these metabolites are produced and how their production is influenced by e.g. genetics, shoot development and environment. You will use advanced metabolomics techniques based on state of the art GC-MS and LC-MS approaches followed by applying dedicated data processing, mining and statistics. A second PhD student shall be based at the Department of Food Processing Engineering who shall investigate how these compounds are influenced by different food processing technologies and to determine if / when key volatile components are lost and how this can be avoided. This project is co-sponsored by two industrial partners who will actively contribute both knowledge and materials to the project.

We are looking for an enthusiastic and highly motivated PhD student in plant, food or analytical (bio)chemistry. To qualify for the position you should have a MSc degree or equivalent in an appropriate subject (food chemistry, analytical chemistry, plant biochemistry, metabolomics) ; previous experience with mass spectrometry would be a pré. The candidate will work closely together with a second PhD student based at Food Process Engineering.

The key activities are therefore: mass spectrometry-based analysis of volatile and non-volatile metabolites in Asparagus, determining how metabolic profiles are influenced by plant physiology, genetics (variety), environment and, together with the second PhD student, how biochemical composition are influenced by contrasting processing treatments.

We ask

  • A background and proven laboratory skills in some form of analytical biochemistry.
  • Knowledge of plant / food chemistry is desirable.
  • Candidate must already hold an MSc in a relevant field.
  • Fluency in English in both spoken and written form.
  • An enthusiastic team player!

We offer

The position can start immediately and is full-time (38 hours/week), initially for 1 year after which a go/no-go decision will be taken on extension for another three years. The gross salary in the first year is € 2.222,-per month rising to € 2.840,- in the fourth year.

More information

Applicants are requested to send a full CV; a cover letter describing their research experience and their motivation to join the project; and the names and contacts of at least 2 referees.

For more information about this position, please contact the project leader Professor Robert Hall, email or Dr Roland Mumm, email
For more information about the contractual aspects, please contact Eva Siebelink, HR advisor, at

Applications will be accepted up to and including June 24th, 2018
For this position you can only apply on line:

We are

The candidate will be based within the Laboratory of Plant Physiology, part of Wageningen University, and will work closely with metabolomics experts at the Business Unit Bioscience, part of Wageningen Plant Research.

Wageningen University & Research delivering a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That's our focus – each and every day. Within our domain of good and safe food & food production, food security and a healthy living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society: sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don’t do this alone. Every day, 5000 people work on ‘the quality of life’, turning ideas into reality, on a global scale.

Laboratory of Plant Physiology works on advancing our knowledge of how plants function and react to their environment. We work together with the Business Unit Bioscience where we use advanced genetic, genomic and metabolomic approaches to define and decipher how, when and where plants make important metabolites. We are especially interested in which metabolites contribute most to plant quality – be that related to e.g. food quality, disease resistance, seed longevity etc etc. We are a group of enthusiastic and motivated researchers and students with many collaborations with other academic and industrial partners.

Business unit Bioscience The BU Bioscience hosts a major suite of –omics facilities including 8 GC and LC Mass Spectrometry platforms for performing metabolomics analyses. We have all the required supplementary support (software, data management facilities, data mining tools) to facilitate an efficient and state-of-the-art analytical platform for designing and applying metabolomics approaches. (see