PhD position on molecular mechanism and ecological consequences of stylar mate selection in Nicotiana attenuata

The Department of Molecular Ecology (Head: Prof. Ian T. Baldwin) at the Max Plank Institute for Chemical Ecology is offering a PhD position on molecular mechanism and ecological consequences of stylar mate selection in Nicotiana attenuata.

The wild tobacco (N. attenuata) is a pioneer plant of the Great Basin Desert (USA) that consistently selects particular mates from mixed pollen loads of multiple mates, all of which are equally fecund in single genotype pollinations. This consistent mate selection is correlated with a stylar ethylene burst and the termination of floral advertisement. Mate selection occurs via differential pollen tube growth in the upper stylar track and requires ethylene signaling (see Bhattacharya, S., and I.T. Baldwin. 2012. The Plant Journal 71(4), 587–601). In this project we will search for the key signaling steps and stylar compounds that mediate this selection, through the analysis of differentially expressed proteomes and metabolomes, in controlled single/mixed pollinations involving various pollen-pistil combinations. We are also examining the ecological and adaptive implication of the mate selection in long-term seed bank trials at our field station in Utah to evaluate if the mate choice is adaptive and to uncover which traits might be important for the survival of seeds in the hostile below-ground environment.

We are looking for enthusiastic PhD students with strong interests in pollination biology and molecular ecology. Applicants should have a firm background in plant-reproduction and molecular biology. Experience in modern microscopy and proteomics and/or small molecule metabolomics would be preferred. The candidate should be willing to embrace multiple disciplines within the domain of plant sciences as required in the project.

We offer exciting research questions, state-of-the art equipment and an excellent research and training environment within the Department of Molecular Ecology. Successful candidates will receive a PhD fellowship. The positions are available immediately and open until filled.

Please send your application including CV, statement of research interests, names and e-mail addresses of two referees to:  

Dr. Samik Bhattacharya
Department of Molecular Ecology
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Hans-Knöll-Straße 8
D-07745 Jena
Email: sbhattacharya [at]