PhD position (m/f/d) | Alkaloid biosynthesis and evolution in medicinal plants

Einsatzort: Jena


  • Developmental and Evolutionary Biology & Genetics
  • Microbiology & Ecology
  • Plant Research
  • Chemistry

Art der Stelle

PhD position (m/f/d) | Alkaloid biosynthesis and evolution in medicinal plants

Stellenangebot vom 15.02.2022

The Department of Natural Product Biosynthesis (Prof. Dr. Sarah E. O’Connor) at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology invites highly motivated candidates to apply for a 3-year PhD position to study alkaloid biosynthesis and evolution in medicinal plants.

Project description

Plants produce countless chemically diverse natural products, or specialized metabolites, to interact with the environment. Alkaloids are a chemically diverse class of compounds, many of which serve as defense compounds and have applications in pharmacology. Ipecac alkaloids are assumed defense compounds with pharmacological activity. Interestingly, they occur in two evolutionary distant plant lineages suggesting that the biosynthetic pathways evolved independently. The aim of this PhD project is to elucidate the biosynthetic pathways of ipecac alkaloids in two distantly related medicinal plant species in a comparative manner. To this end the PhD candidate will use state-of-the-art metabolomics and transcriptomics approaches to identify enzyme candidates, screen for activities, and characterize active enzymes in vitro and in vivo. This will result in the discovery of novel enzymes and improve our understanding of how specialized metabolic pathways evolve in nature.

Candidate requirements

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate trained in biochemistry and molecular biology. Experience and good experimental skills in molecular techniques and mass spectrometry are an advantage. Knowledge about plant specialized metabolism is desirable. A Master’s degree (or equivalent) in Biology, Biochemistry or related disciplines is required for this position.

We offer

a 3-year PhD position. Payment will be based on the tariff contracts for the public service (65% TVöD E13). We provide an excellent research environment with enthusiastic scientists from different nationalities in the Department of Natural Product Biosynthesis led by Prof. S.E. O’Connor at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany. The doctoral researcher will be associated with the International Max Planck Research School Chemical Communication in Ecological Systems

How to apply

Please send your application as a single pdf in English including a letter of motivation and research interests, CV, relevant certificates (degree certificates etc.) and the name and address of at least one referee to Prof. O’Connor: .

Review of applications will begin on March 15, 2022, and continue until the position is filled. The position is available from July 1, 2022.

The Max Planck Society is one of Europe's leading research organizations and conducts basic research in the natural sciences, life sciences, and humanities. The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena carries out fundamental research on how organisms communicate with each other via chemical signals. We analyze ecological interactions with molecular, chemical and neuro-biological techniques. In the Institute, organic chemists, biochemists, ecologists, ento-mologists, behavioral scientists, insect geneticists and physiologists work in collaboration to unravel the complexity of chemical communication that occurs in nature.

The Max Planck Society and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology are very committed to equal opportunities, diversity as well as gender equality. We actively support a healthy work-life balance compatibility and the compatibility of work and family and have set ourselves the goal of employing more severely disabled people as well as groups that are underrepresented in science and especially in the given field of activity. Therefore, we explicitly encourage them to apply and welcome applications from all backgrounds.

Have we sparked your interest? Please apply. We are looking forward to getting your complete application documents.