Postdoc in polymer or organic chemistry, materials or engineering science: Germany

The research group of Prof. Dr. Ulrich S. Schubert at the Cluster of Excellence Balance of the Microverse invites applications for a Postdoctoral Position (m/f/d) to conduct research on the project “Developing bioreactors enabling planctomycetal small molecule production” commencing on 01.02.2023.

A later start may be possible if desired. The position is initially limited to 2 years.

In this project, we will create porous biocompatible 3D polymers and chemically tailor their internal surface to enable immobilization / growth of planctomycetes, respectively create a tailored local environment to utilize their function in small molecule production. The desired production and excretion of small molecules as in natural environments is aimed at under standard laboratory conditions. Next to the accessibility and the biocompatibility of the internal surfaces of the created porous polymers, those will be modified by moieties that favourably interact with planctomycetes, such as glucose, laminarin, chondroitin or N-acetylglucosamine by surface modification / grafting approaches. Once the compatibility of the chemically designed materials with planctomycetes is achieved, growth medium will be pumped through the tailor-made reactors at optimized residence times. The effluent is monitored online with suitable detectors and, on desire, collected in fractions for liquid chromatographic investigations including mass spectrometric analysis. The aim is discovering novel small molecules from planctomycetes and in a further step, a sequential combination of reactors is envisaged to enrich function of the lab scale devices. In a further step towards generalization of the approach, the investigation of different bacterial species could mimic microbial interactions, suspected to further stimulate and diversify small molecule production. In the polymer part of the project, the (i) chemistry and structure of the porous 3D materials is experimentally designed and optimized to enable planctomycete immobilization / growth, (ii) small scale engineering devices are created to test for function, and (iii) upscaling toward a potential future commercial application will be addressed. This interdisciplinary project combines polymer science with microbiology. By employing an iterative prototype-test-evaluate-strategy in the lab that enables harvesting function from biological material, the project should create new ground for small molecule production.

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