CEPLAS currently has 4 open postdoctoral research projects

We are looking for talented, highly motivated candidates with a strong background in molecular plant sciences, genetics or a related discipline. Applications are accepted until the positions are filled. Open positions can be filled at the next possible date, the duration is limited until December 31, 2025.

Qualified candidates should send their complete application as one single PDF (<5 MB) to application[at]ceplas.de. Complete applications include:

  • cover letter with a motivation statement clearly indicating for which project(s) the applicant wants to apply
  • CV
  • publication list
  • contact info of two references
  • PhD certificate or a comment (in the motivation letter or CV) when you expect to obtain your PhD (in case your PhD certificate has not been issued yet or you expect to obtain your PhD degree soon)

CEPLAS creates an international, interdisciplinary research environment. We offer a comprehensive training program for early career researchers tailored to your respective career level.

We invite applications for the following projects:

Please click on the "more" button to get more information about the projects and the qualifications needed.

Genetic causes and physiological consequences of natural variation in leaf complexity

Project leader: Miltos Tsiantis, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research

We have previously characterized processes underlying diversity in leaf form between and within species and have identified genetic pathways influencing natural variation at different evolutionary scales.  Here we propose to investigate the genetic basis of a novel QTL underlying potentially adaptive variation in Cardamine hirsuta leaf complexity as well as the physiological significance of this variation with reference to gas exchange, and resource allocation optimization in different temperature and water availability regimes. The project will involve comparative studies of Cardamine hirsuta and Arabidopsis thaliana and the scope of using relevant information for Brassica napus crop improvement will also be evaluated. References: Wang Y, et al (2022). Current Biology, 32, 3773-3784. Zhang Z, et al (2020). Current Biology, 30:4857-4868.Kierzkowski D, Runions A, et al., (2019) Cell, 177:1405-1418 Vuolo F, et  Gan X, et al., (2016) Nat Plants 2, 16167.  3. Rast-Somssich, M.I et al., (2015). Genes Dev 29, 2391-2404 Cartolano, M., et al., 4. 2015 PNAS 112, 10539-44. 5. Vlad D, et al., (2014) Science 343, 780-3..

Qualifications needed: Plant Molecular Biology/Plant genetics particularly with reference to recourse allocation. Plant Physiology skills e.g.  gas exchange, hydraulics, sink source transition 

Contact person: Miltos Tsiantis, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research Cologne

Synthetic leaf-like structures to study differentiation and developmental trajectories/programs

Project leaders: Andreas Weber / Matias Zurbriggen, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

We will develop and implement synthetic approaches to reconstruct and engineer synthetic tissues with a custom-designed architecture, vasculature, anatomy and biochemical and physiological functionality. Our approach will facilitate the study of cell trajectories for anatomy, vasculature and photosynthetic patterning, function and development during leaf (and root) growth. For this we will integrate novel technologies including 3D Bioprinting, microfluidics, optogenetic control of cell fate and tissue culture, single-cell RNASeq and advanced microscopy. The in vitro synthetic cell-environment model system for the 4D targeted differentiation of plant cells in the absence of a tissue context will be first applied to the study of fundamental questions regarding the inner workings of differentiation-anatomy-function relationship/interactions in the development of photosynthetic tissues and root architecture. The engineering of synthetic leaf-like structures and other tissues will enable not only to test mechanistic hypotheses but also the design of new traits towards achieving smart plants.

Qualifications needed: Plant cell culture, synthetic biology, biochemistry

Contact person: Andreas Weber / Matias Zurbriggen, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Synthetic biology reconstruction and optogenetics approach towards a quantitative analysis of plant signalling networks

Project leader: Matias Zurbriggen, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

We will design, engineer and implement an experimental-theoretical synthetic biology framework for the quantitative understanding, control and engineering of complex plant molecular signaling networks regulating cellular and leaf and root tissue differentiation, development and function. The project comprises two approaches: i) reconstruction of plant signaling pathways in orthogonal, mammalian systems to carry out quantitative studies on pathway architectures, which are otherwise technically challenging to perform on a cellular level in planta due to the molecular complexity of signaling networks. It enables rapid testing of genetic diversity of cellular components and their directed evolution on a scale/throughput rate that is not possible in planta. It also yields high-throughput quantitative data that will be used to generate dynamic mathematical models, which will inform how the effects of genetic variation at the level of gene regulatory networks translate into differential pathway function and hence phenotype, and be used to instruct experimental in planta studies; ii) Optogenetics in combination with CRISPR-Cas-based techs in multiplexing set ups will provide maximized control and specificity of activity of target regulators in planta, in terms of spatial resolution, temporal control, quantitative levels, and reversibility. Overall, this approach will enable the targeted investigation of networks, functional studies, and ultimately to obtain novel traits for crop improvement.

Qualifications needed: Plant and mammalian cell culture, synthetic biology, optogenetics

Contact person: Matias Zurbriggen, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Towards a synthetic leaf - vasculature pattern

Project leaders: Markus Pauly / Oliver Ebenhöh, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

The vasculature/grid architecture in leaves is investigated. A modelling and synthetic biology approach is used to create synthetic leaves with spatially defined vasculature architectures. After assessing the physiology of such a synthetic leaf, the vasculature grid algorithm will be modified and a more optimal vasculature grid retested

Qualifications needed: Molecular biology, sterile work with plant cell cultures, programming, independent work experience

Contact person: Markus Pauly / Oliver Ebenhöh, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Heinrich Heine University
University of Cologne
Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research
Forschungszentrum Jülich