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Open Doctoral Positions 2018

Doctoral projects offered by LSM faculty members for 2019: these projects are expected to be updated in July!


Supervision: Prof. Dr. Christof Osman (Developmental Biology, Genetics, Biochemistry )

Title: Identification of the molecular machineries responsible for maintenance and inheritance of mitochondrial DNA.3-year doctoral project, description:

Our lab is interested in the fundamental but poorly understood question of how cells maintain and correctly organize their mitochondrial genomes. Since the mitochondrial genome is essential for energy production in cells, failure in the maintenance of a functional mitochondrial genome has dire consequences that can lead to diseases or aging. Elucidation of the mechanisms that ensure maintenance and organization of error-free mitochondrial genomes therefore holds the key to understand the cause for such diseases or aging phenotypes.

The aim of this project is the identification and functional characterization of proteins required for faithful maintenance and inheritance of the mitochondrial genome. For this purpose, state-of-the-art biochemical, genetic and (super resolution) microscopy approaches will be used.

For more information on publication please click here.


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