Postdoctoral Researcher

John Innes Centre, Norwich

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Researcher to join the laboratories of Saskia Hogenhout in the Department of Crop Genetics at the John Innes Centre (JIC, Norwich, UK) and Yongping Huang in the Insect Molecular Genetics group at the Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology (SIPPE), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS, Shanghai, China). The successful candidate will be at the John Innes Centre for a period of 18 months starting January 2018 or as soon as possible after this date.

Research in the Hogenhout group focuses on understanding the molecular bases of interactions between sap-feeding insects (aphids, leafhoppers, whiteflies) and plants and the transmission of plant pathogens (such as the bacterial pathogen phytoplasma) by these insects. The Huang group studies insect genetics and sex determination of the silk worm Bombyx mori and the cotton/melon aphid Aphis gossypii and quality of silk production by B. mori.

Aphids are sap-feeding insect pests that cause crop losses via direct feeding damage and through the vectoring of plant viruses. The aphid stylet-like mouthparts probe multiple plants cells on their way to the plant vascular tissues for long-term feeding. During probing and feeding, these insects secrete saliva containing virulence proteins (effectors) and plant pathogens. This project will focus on the functional characterization of an important family of effector proteins of the green peach aphid Myzus persicae, which is a polyphagous insect pest of a broad range of economically important crops worldwide.

The successful candidate will generate transgenic B. mori, express specific members of the aphid effector family in insect cells and purify the effectors for function-structure analyses. In addition, the candidate will conduct yeast two-hybrid screens and co-immunoprecipitation and microscopy experiments to identify and functionally characterize plant targets of effectors and investigate how effector-target interactions lead to the modulation of specific plant processes that promote insect pest colonization.

Candidates should have a PhD or equivalent in zoology or related discipline with extensive research experience in molecular biology and biochemistry. Knowledge of basic genetics and evolutionary biology and experience with molecular cloning, heterologous expression techniques, protein purification methods, basic bioinformatics procedures and insect handling and rearing protocols are required. Specific expertise in transformation methods of B. mori and lepidopteran cell and tissue cultures, western blotting and immunoprecipitation, and paraffin sectioning are also required. The candidate should show evidence of good presentation, writing, computational and organisational skills and the ability to work independently. The position will involve travel and a requirement to spend time at CAS (Shanghai, China). The candidate will be involved in the supervisory committees of (under)graduate students.

Salary on appointment will be within the range £31,250 to £38,100 per annum depending on qualifications and experience.  This post is for a contract of 18 months. 

For further information and details of how to apply, please visit our web site http://jobs.jic.ac.uk or contact Human Resources, Norwich BioScience Institutes Partnership, Norwich Bioscience Institutes, Norwich, NR4 7UH, UK, 01603 450462 quoting reference 1003163.

As a Disability Confident employer, we guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for this vacancy. The John Innes Centre is also proud to hold a Silver Award from Athena SWAN and is a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme.

The John Innes Centre is a registered charity (No. 223852) grant-aided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and is an Equal Opportunities Employer. 

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