Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences

Postdoctoral researcher protein-ligand interaction

Faculty of Science – Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences

Publication date
24 April 2017
Level of education
Salary indication
€2,552 to €3,312 gross per month
Closing date
31 May 2017
38 hours per week
Vacancy number

The Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) is one of the largest institutes of the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Some 240 members of staff organized in 16 research groups engage in excellent research into three themes, i.e. Cell & Systems Biology, Neurosciences and Molecular Life Sciences.

Within the Theme Molecular Life Sciences five research groups have dedicated their research to plants: Plant Physiology, Molecular Plant Pathology, Developmental Genetics, Plant Cell Biology and Plant Hormone Biology.

The recently established research group Plant Hormone Biology investigates the role of plant hormones and other signalling molecules in the communication of plants with other organisms. An example of these signalling molecules, which are used by plants for communication in the soil, are the strigolactones. These are used by the friends of plants, the symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, for host detection but also by their enemies, root parasitic plants. Furthermore, they have an endogenous signalling function, as a plant hormone that regulates shoot branching and root architecture. The multiple signalling roles of the strigolactones could be the result of a paradigm: enemies of plants recruit molecules that are essential to the plant as cues. In this project, which is funded by the European Research Council (ERC), we will investigate how plant enemies have evolved the ability to perceive these plant signalling molecules. The work should shed light on the significance of structural diversity in plant signalling molecules and the co-evolution of perception in their enemies. With the ERC and other funding an international team of post-docs, Phds and technicians with expertises varying from analytical chemistry to biochemistry to molecular biology will be working on this and similar topics.

We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher with expertise in protein biochemistry, molecular biology and bioinformatics and/or protein modelling who will study the receptors involved in the perception of plant produced rhizosphere signalling molecules in plant enemies. He/she will co-supervise a PhD students working on this topic.

Project description

Perception of rhizosphere signalling will be investigated in two approaches, a low risk in parasitic plants and a high risk in a different plant enemy. Recent studies have identified D14like1 (or HTL) as the receptor for exogenous strigolactone perception in seeds of parasitic plants. However, nothing is known about what is determining strigolactone specificity in these parasitic plants. We will use a number of approaches such as yeast two hybrid (Y2H), Differential Scanning Fluorometry (DSF), protein complex isolation, modelling and mutant complementation studies to study the mechanism of strigolactone specificity in Striga and/or Orobanche species and ecotypes. Site-directed mutagenesis will be used to underpin the mechanism of changes in ligand specificity. For the high-risk approach we will use a different plant enemy that uses host produced signalling molecules and look for receptor candidates. The functionality and ligand specificity of candidate receptors and how they may have evolved will be studied using a range of different approaches.


We are looking for a team player, with good command of English, and expertise in protein biochemistry, molecular biology and bioinformatics. Affinity with protein modelling is an asset. You have a PhD in this field.

Further information

For further information you can contact:


The appointment will be on a temporary basis for a period of 1 year and after satisfactory evaluation can be extended with 2 more years to a total duration of 3 years. The candidate will co-supervise PhD student(s) and will be asked, in some cases, to assist in teaching of undergraduates. Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will be maximal €3,312 in the first year (scale 10-6) in the first year. The Collective Employment Agreement (CAO) for Dutch Universities is applicable. 

Job application

Applications may only be submitted by electronic mail and should be sent to application-science@uva.nl. To enable us to process your application immediately, please quote vacancy number 17-207 and the position you are applying for in the subject-line.

Applications must include a curriculum vitae and a letter of motivation. Please combine these documents in one single attachment and also mention the months (not just years) in your CV when referring to your education and work experience.

Applications will be accepted until 31 May 2017. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

Published by  University of Amsterdam