PhD position in the Department of Entomology

Glucosinolates are characteristic secondary plant metabolites in the plant family Brassicaceae. Together with the enzyme myrosinase they form an activated defense system against herbivores known as the “mustard-oil bomb”. Herbivore feeding activates the defense system because it destroys the spatial separation between the glucosinolates and the hydrolyzing enzyme myrosinase. This hydrolysis leads to the formation of bioactive isothiocyanates, as well as other compounds, which repel and/or harm non-adapted herbivores.  Nevertheless, several insects, among them important pest species, are able to feed on Brassicaceae without being harmed by the mustard-oil bomb. Different insect detoxification strategies have been identified in Lepidopterans as well as in Hemipterans, and Hymenopterans. However, the detoxification strategies of crucifer-feeding leaf beetles are not well-understood. In previous studies we found that Phyllotreta flea beetles sequester glucosinolates from their Brassica host plants. Although glucosinolate sequestration has been described in aphids and sawfly larvae, the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. We use the Phyllotreta-Brassica system to investigate glucosinolate sequestration in an evolutionary and ecological context. Currently, several topics within this project are available depending on the interest of the candidate.

We invite applications for a PhD position in the Department of Entomology in the project group “Insect Detoxification and Sequestration Strategies”. We are looking for a highly motivated PhD student who is interested in insect detoxification strategies and who is willing to work interdisciplinary. The candidate should have experience in one of the following fields: molecular biology, biochemistry, insect physiology, or analytical chemistry. The Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology offers a stimulating research environment with state-of-the-art equipment and exceptional training opportunities for PhD students.

Please send your application (German or English) including CV and two references to:

Dr. Franziska Beran
Department of Entomology
Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Hans-Knöll-Str. 8
D-07745 Jena
eMail: fberan [at]