Postdoctoral Researcher

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John Innes Centre

The John Innes Centre is an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology, carrying out fundamental and strategic research, to train scientists and making our findings available to society.

Our research makes use of a wide range of disciplines in the biological and chemical sciences including; cell biology, biochemistry, chemistry, genetics and molecular biology.

We pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive working environment for all. We have a diverse and multicultural scientific community and thrive on our European and international links. We are proud to hold a prestigious Athena SWAN Gold award, recognising the impact of our work in promoting gender equality in science. We are also a proud member of the Stonewall Diversity Champion’s programme and, as a Disability Confident employer, guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for the post.

The John Innes Centre is a registered charity (No. 223852), limited by guarantee (registered in England No. 511709) and is an Equal Opportunities Employer.

Post Details

Job Title
Postdoctoral Researcher
Post Number
1003485
Closing Date
2 Jul 2018
Grade
SC6
Starting Salary
£31,250 - £38,100
Hours per week
37
Project Title
DNA methylation reprogramming during plant sexual reproduction
Expected/Ideal Start Date
20 Aug 2018
Months Duration
12

Main Purpose of the Job

The Postdoctoral Researcher will investigate the mechanism by which male sexual lineage development is regulated by the epigenetic pathways in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
In flowering plants, reproduction is carried out by two specialized lineages of cells, here called the sexual lineages. Although past studies have identified a network of genes required for reproductive function, the genes required for the initiation of sexual lineages are few, and it is unknown how these few genes execute the massive shift of transcription repertoire in the transition between somatic and reproductive development. Preliminary studies in the lab suggest that epigenetic pathways promote male sexual lineage development by regulating the expression of genes.

Department

Cell & Developmental Biology

Development continues throughout the life of the plant. While many linear pathways affecting development have been discovered and are illustrated by elegant genetic studies, the challenge of the future will be for us to understand how these developmental pathways are integrated, both with themselves as well as with environmental signals, to enable a mature plant to grow from a seed.  Guided by evolutionary principles, the Department uses its knowledge of biological processes obtained in laboratory organisms such as Arabidopsis to understand processes in crop plants such as Brassicas and cereals.  To study this interaction of the plant genome with internal developmental networks and the environment, the Department uses a combination of genetic, cell biological, molecular and evolutionary strategies. The insights we are gaining provide both an increasingly detailed knowledge of the proteins involved in diverse regulatory mechanisms and a conceptual framework in which this knowledge can be related and eventually integrated into a molecular description of plant cell function.   The knowledge the department is creating is relevant to agriculture. Genes that control plant stature, form, over-wintering responses and growth are potentially useful for improving crop performance.

Group Details

Plant sexual reproduction is carried out by two highly specialized lines of cells, called the male and female sexual lineages. A fundamental but still unresolved question is how the reproductive function and fate are installed and maintained precisely in these cell lineages. We work at the interface of developmental biology and epigenetics to answer this question, using Arabidopsis thaliana as a primary model of study. Employing a combination of molecular, genetic, imaging, epigenetic and genomic approaches, we aim to dissect the mechanisms by which genetic and epigenetic factors shape the function and fate determination of the male sexual lineage. Revealing novel genetic and epigenetic regulators and their crosstalk is essential for our knowledge of sexual reproduction. Our work thus has implications for improving crop fertility and yield, and minimizing negative environmental impacts on crop production. At a more fundamental level, the male sexual lineage serves as a good paradigm for the study of plant development, especially important for understanding how the development of a specific lineage of cells is tightly controlled in the context of a plastic environment of plant development.

Advert Text

Postdoctoral Researcher

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Researcher to join the Laboratory of Dr Xiaoqi Feng in the Cell and Developmental Biology Department at the John Innes Centre. The Feng Laboratory focuses on dissecting the mechanisms by which epigenetic factors shape the function and fate determination of the male sexual lineage.

Background:

Plant sexual reproduction is carried out by two highly specialized lines of cells, called the male and female sexual lineages. A fundamental but still unresolved question is how the reproductive function and fate are installed and maintained precisely in these cell lineages. We work at the interface of developmental biology and epigenetics to answer this question, using Arabidopsis thaliana as a primary model of study. Employing a combination of molecular, genetic, imaging, epigenetic and genomic approaches, we aim to dissect the mechanisms by which genetic and epigenetic factors shape the function and fate determination of the male sexual lineage. Revealing novel genetic and epigenetic regulators and their crosstalk is essential for our knowledge of sexual reproduction. Our work thus has implications for improving crop fertility and yield, and minimizing negative environmental impacts on crop production. At a more fundamental level, the male sexual lineage serves as a good paradigm for the study of plant development, especially important for understanding how the development of a specific lineage of cells is tightly controlled in the context of a plastic environment of plant development.

The role:

The Postdoctoral Researcher will investigate the mechanism by which male sexual lineage development is regulated by the epigenetic pathways in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. They will investigate the epigenetic regulation of plant germline development, employing a combination of molecular, genetic, imaging, epigenetic and genomic approaches. Revealing novel genetic and epigenetic regulators and their crosstalk is essential for our knowledge of sexual reproduction. At a more fundamental level, the male sexual lineage serves as a good paradigm for the study of plant development, especially important for understanding how the development of a specific lineage of cells is tightly controlled in the context of a plastic environment of plant development.

The ideal candidate:

The successful candidate will have a PHD in Plant Sciences and a proven record in scientific writing. Experience in Bioinformatics and DNA methylation analysis will also be essential to this role.

Additional information:

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 12 months.

For further information and details of how to apply, please visit our web site http://jobs.jic.ac.uk or contact the Human Resources team on 01603 450462 or nbi.recruitment@nbi.ac.uk quoting reference 1003485.

We are an equal opportunities employer, actively supporting inclusivity and diversity. As a Disability Confident organisation, 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 Gold Award from Athena SWAN and is a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme.

The closing date for applications will be 2nd July 2018.

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.

Key Relationships

The Postdoctoral Researcher will primarily interact with other researchers within the Feng group. We perform most bioinformatics in-house, but the successful candidate will also interact with the Bioinformaticians at the Earlham Institute. The Postdoctoral Researcher will also have regular interactions with other groups in the John Innes Centre, Sainsburys Laboratory and Quadram Institute BioScience working on various aspects of epigenetics, chromatin dynamics, and reproductive development, such as the Caroline Dean Laboratory and Peter Shaw Laboratory. As part of the epigenetics community and sexual reproduction community in Europe, we are collaborating with other groups to look at the involvement of epigenetics in other biological processes. The Postdoctoral Researcher will be expected to interact with such other groups and our collaborators in these communities.

Main Activities & Responsibilities

Percentage
Identify, plan, carry out and modify experiments to meet the objectives of the project
70
Prepare results, reports and manuscripts for publication in leading scientific journals and other relevant media
10
Ensure research and record keeping is carried out in accordance with good practice, Scientific Integrity and in compliance with local policies and any legal requirements
5
Contribute to the smooth running of the group, including the effective use of resources, supervision of visitors to the laboratory and assisting with training others, encouraging scientific excellence
5
Continually strive for excellence, seeking out and acting on feedback and relevant learning and development opportunities
5
As agreed with the line manager, any other duties commensurate with the nature of the post, for example, contributing to the work of Institute committees
5

Education & Qualifications

Requirement
Importance
PhD in Plant Sciences
Essential

Specialist Knowledge & Skills

Requirement
Importance
Bioinformatics
Essential
DNA methylation analysis
Essential

Relevant Experience

Requirement
Importance
Demonstrated ability to perform research and develop novel ideas
Essential
Proven record in scientific writing
Essential

Interpersonal & Communication Skills

Requirement
Importance
Excellent communication skills, both written and oral, including the ability to present complex information with clarity
Essential
Good interpersonal skills, with the ability to work as part of a team
Essential
Demonstrated ability to work independently, using initiative and applying problem solving skills
Essential

Additional Requirements

Requirement
Importance
Promotes equality and values diversity
Essential
Willingness to embrace the expected values and behaviours of all staff at the Institute, ensuring it is a great place to work
Essential
Willingness to work outside standard working hours when required
Essential
Ability to undertake occasional travel (national and international) related to collaborations and/or seminars
Essential
Attention to detail
Essential