Postdoctoral Position Plant-Microbe Interactions

The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany invites applications for a postdoctoral position in plant-microbe interactions. The position is available in the Department of Molecular Ecology (Director: Ian T. Baldwin).


Natural history observations are the basis for the research questions of the Department of Molecular Ecology. In particular, we focus on identifying plant molecular traits that play vital roles for the survival of our model plant Nicotiana attenuata (coyote tobacco) in the rough and tumble of its natural environment, the Great Basin Desert, Utah, USA. To this end we have developed a tool box consisting of molecular, analytical and ecological components that qualify us to study the genetic basis for the diverse ecological interactions of N. attenuata. While so far the emphasis was placed on plant-herbivore interactions, a series of interesting field observations prompted us to enlarge our research focus to include the investigation of microbial players in the plant’s environment.


The objective of the post-doc will be to gain a deeper understanding about how microbes influence the fitness of N. attenuata in its native environment. To do so, the candidate will study the changes in the native microbial community using transgenic N. attenuata lines that are silenced in specific genetic traits that influence the plant’s ability to resist herbivores, compete with conspecifics, negotiate interactions with pollen vectors, withstand abiotic stresses, entrain their circadian clock and interact with mycorrhizae. Microbial community analyses at the soil/air-plant interface will be conducted using culture-dependent and independent techniques (e.g. PCR-DGGE). Furthermore, the overall effect of the microbial communities on plant health will be tested with isolation and re-inoculation experiments.


We are looking for a candidate with a strong background in the analysis of plant-microbe interactions at the microbial community level with molecular and ecological tools. Candidates with good knowledge in statistics and bioinformatics are preferred. We expect the successful candidate to mentor PhD and master students. A PhD degree is a formal requirement for this position.

Payment / Position

The post-doctoral position for this project is available from August 01, 2012 for a period of three years, with possible extension to 5 years. Salary and benefits are commensurate with experience. The Max Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer. The goal is to enhance the percentage of women where they are underrepresented. Women, therefore, are especially encouraged to apply. The Society is committed to employing more handicapped people. Applications of handicapped people are particularly welcome.


For further information, please contact Prof. Ian Baldwin (e-mail: baldwin [at]

Please send an application/motivation letter including curriculum vitae, a publication list and three letters of recommendation to

Evelyn Claußen
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Department of Molecular Ecology
Hans-Knöll-Str. 8
07745 Jena

E-mail: claussen [at]