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Last application date: Aug 01, 2023
Department: LA21 - Department of Plants and Crops
Contract: Limited duration
Degree: You hold a Master’s degree in Bioscience Engineering (cell and gene biotechnology, or agriculture) or Sciences (biotechnology, biochemistry or biology)
Occupancy rate: 100 %
Vacancy type: Research staff


Are you a motivated young bioengineer or plant biotechnologist with a passion for PLANT SCIENCE and do you want to contribute to research on the impact of heat stress on the development of pollen?

Job description

Heat waves have become a common occurrence that is seriously affecting the production of seeds and fruits, and in general agricultural productivity. Even very short periods of high temperatures during sexual reproduction have already a devastating impact. Why in particular the process of meiosis and gamete development are highly sensitive to heat is an important unanswered question in plant biology. Horticell investigates the underlying molecular processes that are the cause for heat inflicted loss of fertility, and in this context, we identified several genetic factors involved. The proposed PhD project dives into the study of these genes with the aim to reveal how the reproductive system responds to heat stress and what signaling and repair pathways are being activated to mitigate the damage. By investigating one of the genes involved, we identified a new mechanism that plants, and possibly even other eukaryote organisms, use to cope with heat stress. The goal of the PhD project is to determine what molecular processes get activated to avoid or overcame cellular damage in male meiosis and microspores. The results are highly valuable to adjust crop cultivation methods and to design genome selection schemes in plant breeding programs.

As a PhD researcher your tasks are:

  • design and set-up experiments in the lab. These experiments involve the culturing of plants, performing molecular and genetic analyses, and microscopy
  • share results with colleagues and discuss interpretations at labmeetings
  • follow the recent literature on heat stress and sexual reproduction
  • writing of reports, scientific publications, and attend international congresses
  • secure intellectual property
  • guide undergraduate and internship students


  • You recently obtained a Master degree in bioscience engineering, biology, biochemistry or similar level
  • When having a Non-EU diploma, you must have an equivalence recognition.
  • You meet the generic conditions to carry out a PhD
  • You have knowledge of plant genetics, molecular biology and statistics
  • You have a strong interest in plant sexual reproduction and crop production
  • a master thesis in plant molecular biotechnology is a plus

Other skills

  • you can work accurately and are well organized
  • socially adapted to work in an international team
  • excellent English reading, talking, and writing
  • you have an eye for detail and enjoy discussing and presenting your work


  • We offer you a PhD position starting in 2023.
  • The doctoral scholarship is initially granted for 1 year and can be extended to 4 years after a favorable evaluation.


Send your application (see below) to with the heading ‘Application POLLEN_Last name_First name before August 1st, 2023.

Position will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is identified.

Provide the following documents:

  • your CV and an overview of your study results (merged into one pdf file)
  • your application letter
  • a transcript of the required degree (if already in your possession).
  • If you have a foreign diploma provide evidence of English language proficiency

Ghent University maintains an equal opportunities and diversity policy, everyone is encouraged to apply for this position. Candidates found fit based on CV screening will be invited for an interview upon invitation. Include your email address and telephone number to allow us to get in contact.


For more information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. Danny Geelen (, +32(0)9/264 60 76).