Postdoctoral positions - Utilizing the Nicotiana attenuata toolbox to understand how native plants survive in the real world

Prof. Ian Baldwin, Department of Molecular Ecology of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

Over the past two decades we have created a molecular-ecological toolbox for Nicotiana attenuata, a native diploid tobacco that grows in the Great Basin Desert in the primordial agricultural niche (it’s a fire chaser), to understand how this native plant survives in the real world. The toolbox is composed of three support platforms (molecular, analytical and ecological) which includes state- of-art molecular biological, genetic and analytical resources comparable or better than what you can find dispersed across the entire Arabidopsis community, but also a field station located in a nature preserve in the plant’s native habitat in SW Utah, at which communities of transgenic plants, harboring silencing and over-expression constructs for plant and insect (for plant-mediated RNAi) genes are regularly planted to test functional hypotheses about gene function (for more information about these toolboxes see webpages starting at: and click on the circles with the tool box labels.

We are offering 3-year Post Doctoral positions (which are extendable for an additional 2 years based on productivity) for creative biologists and chemists with a track record of research productivity and independence to utilize the tools of this remarkable molecular/ecological toolbox to explore hypotheses about the organismic level function of genes.

We are particularly interested in projects that utilize our many RNAi lines that have already been screened and tested (rather than requiring the generation of new lines), and take full advantage of our new forward genetics efforts using the recently established MAGIC-RIL population which captures the genetic diversity of N. attenuata (see the molecular tool box for more details). While we are open to any exciting research question that helps to elucidate how plants function in the real world, we are particularly interested in projects that explore root behavior in a whole-plant functional context and opportunistic mutualisms that roots establish with microbial partners.

We offer competitive salaries according to MPG guidelines, a stimulating work environment, and excellent mentoring for your transition to a professorship or other position in which your science can flourish. Payment will be based on the German public service (TVöD- Bund) and depends on qualifications and professional experience. Various fringe benefits in accordance with public service positions are included.

We expect: A PhD in plant sciences, entomology, microbiology, molecular biology, analytical chemistry, or ecology (preferably an interest in all of the above!); an inquisitive mind; excellent verbal and written communication skills; a publication track record, and a collaborative personality capable of taking full advantage of the awesome genetic, analytical and ecological resources that the Department of Molecular Ecology has developed for Nicotiana attenuata as a model ecological expression system. Please read Baldwin’s Scientist Creed for an elaboration of the Department’s expectations.

How to apply: Send your CV, a summary of your previous research experience, a statement of research interests and a short statement how they could take advantage of the N. attenuata toolbox and contact information for at least two references to Melanie Wilson who will be conducting the initial screening for Ian Baldwin. Suitable candidates will be interviewed by phone, asked to write a short proposal, followed by an invitation for a seminar. The positions are available immediately and will remain open until filled.

The Max-Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer and strives to employ both genders equally, as well as to employ more individuals with disabilities. Therefore we encourage all applicants, independent of their nationality, gender or disability, to apply for this position.



Melanie Wilson
Department of Molecular Ecology
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Hans-Knoell-Strasse 8
D-07745 Jena
application [at]