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Postdoctoral Research Assistant - Engineering Oxygen Sensing Mechanisms to Direct Developmental Trajectories in Plants

University of Oxford - Department of Plant Sciences

Location: Oxford
Salary: £33,309 to £40,927 per annum, Grade 7
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 24th November 2021
Closes: 14th January 2022
Job Ref: 154551

The Department of Plant Sciences is seeking to recruit a Post-doctoral research assistant for 24 months. This post is funded by the ERC Consolidator grant SynOxyS held by Dr Licausi. The work is to be conducted in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RB. The research topic is ‘Engineering oxygen sensing mechanisms to direct developmental trajectories in plants’.

Aerobic organisms developed systems to measure cellular oxygen levels and activate adaptive responses in case of hypoxia. This condition can be caused by sudden environmental changes or associated with developmental programmes.

The PDRA will merge the synthetic biology framework, plant physiology and evolution biology to transfer features of the oxygen sensing and delivery systems from metazoans, fungi and algae to plants. This strategy will be instrumental to investigate, for the first time, whole oxygen machineries and characterize their performance in the context of plant cells. The SynOxys project expands in three interlinked directions that explore (1) the exploitation of 2-oxoglutarate (OG)-dependent dioxygenase to drive selective proteolysis in higher plants, (2) the investigation of endogenous or heterologous control of chromatin accessibility by 2-OG dependent dioxygenases and (3) the engineering of a chimeric delivery system to alter oxygen provision or perception specifically in shoot apical meristems. The process of design and optimization of these synthetic oxygen machineries, and the comparison with endogenous ones, will allow pinpointing the features that enable efficient control of hypoxic responses and will foster precise control of adaptive responses that ameliorate hypoxia tolerance in plants. The actual design and adjustment of strategies towards these goals is expected to result from regular interaction and pro-active discussion of the PDRA with the other members of the team, including the Principal investigator.

Duties: The PDRA will design strategies, carry out experiments and analyse data. They will also be involved in presenting and discussing their results within the group and with other members of the Department. Presentation and critical discussion of results and related literature will also be fostered during group meetings. The PDRA is expected to contribute to lab and group management, write manuscripts, prepare presentations, and, together with the PI, supervise students and possibly contribute to outreach activities.

Selection criteria: The postholder should have a PhD or equivalent (or be very close to obtaining one and a publication record) in a relevant area. The successful candidate is expected to demonstrate intellectual curiosity and rigour, ability to work independently and manage multiple tasks, write effectively in English as well as previous experience of statistical and data analysis skills relevant to the project.

Please see job description for further information.

The closing date for applications is 12.00 noon on 14 January 2022.

Informal enquiries should be directed to at francesco.licausi@plants.ox.ac.uk

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