Postdoctoral Researcher in “Plant engineering”: UK

 National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) is looking for a Postdoctoral Researcher in “Plant engineering” for a fixed term until 30th September 2022.

You would play a key role in the Genetics, Genomics and Breeding department (GGB) based at NIAB EMR, East Malling in Kent carrying out research within for the Bill & Melinda Gates funded ENSA project, working closely with the Oldroyd group at the Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge University (SLCU) and international partners. The aim of ENSA is to use Biological Nitrogen Fixation to Sustainably Increase Yields for small-holder Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa ( As part of ENSA, the Harrison group is working to study symbiotic associations in the Rosaceae.

You will be expected to make significant research contributions in the area of plant transformation and gene functional characterisation to study root symbiotic microbes, and demonstrate your skills in molecular plant microbe interactions through recent papers in high quality journals. Experience in the research area of symbiotic colonisation would be highly desirable.

As a part of this post activities will also be focused on the comparative genomic analysis alongside de novo genome assembly of crop wild relatives for the identification of genomic gains and losses. Therefore a keenness to handle sequencing data analysis is essential. You do not need to have prior experience in this area, as training will be provided, but a willingness to learn basic scripting and simple bioinformatics workflows is essential.

You must have a PhD in a relevant, but not necessarily related field (e.g systems biology, evolutionary biology, microbiology, plant science) and display evidence of high quality research through your publications and a high level of written and oral communication in English. A track record in horticultural crops is not required, but a keen desire to learn and apply cutting edge techniques to perennial fruit crops e.g. (strawberry & apple) is essential. A keen desire to learn about the regulation of symbiotic associations in nitrogen fixing clade within the Rosids is key to this appointment.

Key areas of the job include:

  • Advanced cloning using Goldengate technology
  • Transformation of perennial crops (e.g. strawberry and apple)
  • Fluorescent and confocal microscopy of roots
  • Characterisation of signalling pathways using standard molecular biology techniques (western blotting, RNAseq, qPCR etc)
  • Comparative genomics of Rosaceae
  • You will work within and across departments at NIAB and organisations participating in ENSA in an interdisciplinary setting, so you will need excellent communication skills and the ability to build strong working relationships. You will also need to communicate your research through reports, publications and presentations both to academic and industry audiences.

You must demonstrate an established track record of high quality research output, with publications in high-impact factor journals and also demonstrate excellent writing and communication skills evidenced through a substantial number of peer reviewed and other publications.

You will be highly IT literate and willing to learn in particular characterisation of complex gene families (and orthology comparison approaches). Experience with best practice such as, version control and high level computer languages (e.g. python is desirable).

You will require a creative research vision for development, implementation and delivery of successful research projects, an ability to communicate complex conceptual ideas to widely divergent audiences. You will make a positive contribution both to ENSA and to Institute activities and funded initiatives including open days, workshops etc and expectation to undertake some administrative activities. You must demonstrate evidence of working in an open and transparent way, providing information and communicating effectively with colleagues. Evidence of continuous Professional Development is required along with the ability to respond quickly to externally imposed deadlines, ability to travel at short notice and to work antisocial hours. A full UK driving licence (required for commuting to Cambridge site) or access to independent means of transport is highly desirable.

Salary will be in the range of £30,042 to £39,640 per annum, depending on qualifications and experience. Further details and an application form are available on our website: or from the HR Office, East Malling, Kent ME19 6BJ, Tel: 01732 523791, Email:, quoting Ref No. T/347

Closing date for applications is: 18 January 2019

Please contact Richard Harrison for informal enquiries.

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