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Open Doctoral Positions 2018

Doctoral projects offered by LSM faculty members for 2018/19:

Supervisor: Prof Dr Marc Bramkamp (Bacterial Cell Biology, Microbiology)

Title: Unravelling the chromosome organization in the Gram-positive model organism Corynebacterium glutamicum.

The scientific project is based in the field of bacterial cell biology and aims to unravel the chromosome organization in the Gram-positive model organism Corynebacterium glutamicum. A central question will be how the spatial organization of the chromosome is regulated in this organism and how chromosome segregation is coordinated with apical growth and cell division. Our lab uses state-of-the art imaging techniques including single molecule localization microscopy.
Candidates must hold a master degree (or equivalent) in Biology, Biochemistry or a related field. A profound background in microbial cell biology (including knowledge in fluorescence microscopy), molecular biology and protein biochemistry is required. Good command of English language is a prerequisite in our international team. A successful candidate should have high interest and motivation in bacterial cell biology and interdisciplinary work.

Minimum requirement: Master degree!

More details about our research can be found at

Supervisor: Dr Dr Christian Grimm ( Pharmacology)

Title: Doctoral degree in Pharmacology/Ion channel research

We are currently looking for recent graduates (Master of Science in biology, chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences or similar) who are interested in ion channel research, in particular in TRPML cation channels (mucolipins) and two-pore channels (TPCs). The candidate would ideally have experience in molecular biological techniques and experience in or have strong interest in patch-clamp electrophysiology and imaging techniques. The LMU is one of the top ranked German universities and our department is located on the LMU’s high tech campus (Munich Grosshadern) with close proximity to several Max-Planck institutes and other research institutions.

Minimum requirement: Master degree!

Selected recent publications:
- Chao Y-K, Schludi V, Chen C-C, Butz E, Nguyen, P., Müller, M., Krüger J, Kammerbauer C, Vollmar, A., Berking C, Biel M, Wahl-Schott C Grimm C (2017) TPC2 polymorphisms associated with a human hair pigmentation phenotype result in gain of channel function by independent mechanisms. PNAS 2017 Sep 18. pii: 201705739. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1705739114.
- Chen C-C, Butz E, Chao Y-K, Grishchuk Y, Becker L, Heller S, Slaugenhaupt S, Biel M, Wahl-Schott C, Grimm C: Small molecules for early endosome specific patch-clamping. Cell Chem Biol 24(7):907-916.e4, 2017.
- Chen C-C, Chunlei C, Fenske S, Butz E, Chao Y-K, Biel M, Ren D, Wahl-Schott C, Grimm C: Patch clamp technique to characterize ion channels in individual intact endolysosomes. Nature Protoc 12(8):1639-1658, 2017.
- Nguyen P*, Grimm C*, Schneider L, Chao Y-K, Watermann A, Ulrich M, Mayr D, Wahl-Schott C, Biel M, Vollmar AM: Two-pore channel function is crucial for migration of invasive cancer cells. Cancer Res 77:1427-1438, 2017.
- Chen C-C, Keller M, Hess M, Schiffmann R, Urban N, Wolfgardt A, Schaefer M, Bracher F, Biel M, Wahl-Schott C, Grimm C: A small molecule restores function to TRPML1 mutant isoforms responsible for mucolipidosis type IV. Nature Commun 5:4681, 2014.
- Grimm C, Holdt LM, Chen C-C, Hassan S, Müller C, Jörs S, Cuny H, Kissing S, Schröder B, Butz E, Northoff B, Castonguay J, Luber CA, Moser M, Spahn S, Lüllmann-Rauch R, Fendel C, Klugbauer N, Griesbeck O, Haas A, Mann M, Bracher F, Teupser D, Saftig P, Biel M, Wahl-Schott C: High susceptibility to fatty liver disease in two-pore channel 2-deficient mice. Nature Commun 5:4699, 2014.


Supervision: Dr Macarena Marín (Genetics, Plant Microbiome )

Title: Deciphering the bacterial community of ineffective nodules

3-year doctoral project, description:
One of the cornerstones of the root nodule symbiosis is the bi-directional nutrient exchange between host legumes and their micro-symbionts. Yet ineffective symbiotic interactions in which indigenous rhizobia do not fix nitrogen, often occur in agricultural fields. This leads to reduced yields and thus limits the widespread use of legumes in sustainable agriculture. The competition between these indigenous cheater rhizobia and introduced beneficial inoculants has been indicated as one of the reasons why inoculant strains have low penetration in agricultural fields. The aim of this project is to investigate the microbial community forming ineffective nodules and the interactions shaping this community. For this we will combine microbiology, computational biology and plant physiology approaches.

Minimum requirement: Master degree!


Supervision: Prof Dr Martin Parniske (Genetics, Plant biology )

Title: Molecular inventions underlying the evolution of the nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis.

Crop production worldwide is sustained through nitrogen fertilizer produced via the energy-demanding Haber-Bosch process. One group of closely related plants evolved to become independent of nitrogen from the soil by engaging in symbiosis with bacteria that convert atmospheric nitrogen to plant-usable ammonium and are hosted within specialized organs, the root nodules. Nodulation evolved several times independently but exclusively in four related orders, the Fabales, Fagales, Cucurbitales and Rosales (FaFaCuRo) based on a putative genetic predisposition to evolve root nodules acquired by a common ancestor of this clade.
The PhD project will contribute to a larger ongoing effort of the Parniske lab to identify the elusive genetic switches involved in the evolution of nodulation. It builds on the underlying idea that a succession of events co-opted preexisting developmental programs to be activated by symbiotic stimuli. We will systematically investigate and compare the prewired connections between signaling pathways and developmental modules present in non-nodulating and nodulating relatives, to identify components acquired by nodulators. The Rosaceae represent a particularly attractive family to test evolutionary hypotheses by transferring candidate switches from a nodulator into the genome of closely related sister genera to enable nitrogen fixing root nodule symbiosis. Most genera of the Rosaceae including economically valuable targets such as apple and strawberry are non-nodulating. A minority of Rosaceae form ancestral, lateral root related actinorhiza nodules with Frankia actinobacteria, which differs from the derived, more complex symbiosis of legumes with rhizobia. Frankia strains have a very broad host range and can fix nitrogen at ambient oxygen concentrations thus imposing minimal constraints on a host environment suitable for efficient symbiosis. Thus, by retracing small evolutionary steps within the Rosaceae we will take a huge leap towards nitrogen-fertilizer independent crops for sustainable

Supervisor: Prof Dr Silke Robatzek (Genetics, Plant Science)

Title: Identify principles of microbiota recognition by the plant’s immune system.

The project is funded by the DFG Priority Program 2125 Deconstruction and Reconstruction of the Plant Microbiota DECRyPT, and will identify principles of microbiota recognition by the plant’s immune system.

Critical to many aspects of eukaryotic health are the intimate associations hosts form with the micro-organisms of their biotic environment. Plants are able to tolerate and even promote associations with commensal or beneficial microbes while retaining the ability to defend microbial pathogens. Hosting a microbiota represents a long-term microbial load that can provoke lasting immune stimulation. How bacterial communities are sensed by the plant immune system and how perception leads to association with microbiota but immunity against pathogen colonization is an incomplete understood process. We will address these questions using state-of-the-art proteomics methods combined with synthetic bacterial communities of the microbiota and genetic mutants. At its completion, this project will lead to new insight into immunity mechanisms leading to microbial homeostasis. This will pave the way for an improved understanding of a fundamental question in plant-microbiome interactions.

The group of Prof. Silke Robatzek, currently located at the LMU Biocentre in Munich, is looking for a PhD student starting in Dec/Jan/Feb 2018/2019. The PhD candidate is expected to have a strong background in modern molecular biology, genetics and biochemistry. Experience in plant-microbe interactions and microbiome research is a benefit. Must have a Master in a suitable background Microbiology, Biochemistry, and/or Plant Science.

This is a 3-year position. Salary will be within the TV-L scale Grade E13 at 65% according to the DFG salary scheme.

 Minimum requirement: Master degree!


Supervisor: Dr. Esther Zanin (Cell Biology)

 Title: Molecular mechanisms that control cytokinesis in cell division.

Our group is interested in the molecular mechanisms that control cell division. During the last step of cell division, a process called cytokinesis, the mother cell splits into two daughter cells. When the chromosomes segregate in anaphase a contractile actin-myosin ring assembles underneath the plasma membrane. Contractile ring formation has to be spatially and temporally coordinated with chromosome segregation to ensure that the genomic content is properly distributed. Cytokinesis failure results in tetraploidy and supernumerary centrosomes causing multipolar spindles and oncogenic transformations. The aim of the PhD project is to delineate the molecular pathways that control cytokinesis in time and space. In our research group we combine the advantages of both the nematode C. elegans and tissue culture cells. As our main approach we use quantitative live-cell microscopy since it provides the high temporal and spatial resolution required to study such a dynamic process like cytokinesis. In addition to live cell microscopy we apply a broad range of cell biological techniques including biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics and screening approaches. Our research group is part of the cell- and developmental biology department, which not only offers high-end instrumentation and laboratory equipment but also a highly interactive and international research environment.

We are searching for highly motivated applicants with a strong interest in fundamental questions of cell biology. Applicants should have excellent knowledge of cell and molecular biology and hold a master/diploma degree in life science.

For more information:

Minimum requirement: Master degree!