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The planned PhD work will be executed in the framework of a Belgian Directorate-General Development Cooperation(DGD) project “Safeguarding vegetatively-propagated crop diversity to nourish people now and in the future”. The study will focus on an efficient and fast strategy to develop a cryopreservation protocols for new species with focus on those crops providing food security in the global South.
According to recent studies our planet is facing its sixth mass extinction of species (flora as well as fauna). This means that by the end of the century probably only 20% of the current biodiversity will remain. It is thus important to preserve valuable genetic resources for future generations. The ultimate storage method for vegetatively propagated crops is cryopreservation (or freeze preservation) at ultralow temperatures where biological material is stored in liquid nitrogen (-196°C). The Laboratory of Tropical crop Improvement would like to hire a highly motivated PhD candidate to develop in vitro and cryopreservation protocols for a selection of tropical crops (including edible aroids, cassava, sweet potato and coconut). This Laboratory, at the Department of Biosystems, has more than 30 years of experience with the development of plant cryopreservation protocols. It is internationally considered as a leading centre for plant cryopreservation research. The largest cryopreserved banana collection was established at KU Leuven including some 1050 banana accessions (=67 % of the in vitro collection). During recent years, the laboratory developed cryopreservation protocols for over 30 different plant species. These cover a wide range of plants; temperate vs. tropical crops, woody vs. herbaceous plants and monocots vs. dicots.
Until now, most plant cryopreservation protocols are developed by “trial and error”. This works out for some species but is very inefficient and time consuming. Moreover,there are still some important, often tropical, crop species for which efficient cryopreservation methods are not developed yet. The planned PhD work will be executed in the framework of a Belgian Directorate-General Development Cooperation(DGD) project “Safeguarding vegetatively-propagated crop diversity to nourish people now and in the future”. The study will focus on an efficient and fast strategy to develop a cryopreservation protocols for new species with focus on those crops providing food security in the global South. Such strategy will be based on past experience in the lab, literature, basic knowledge of plant physiology and cryobiology.
The lab is seeking a highly motivated PhD candidate with strong interest in plant physiology and biotechnology
● You have a MSc degree in bioscience engineering, biotechnology, biology or equivalent fields
● Experience with plant in vitro culture is an advantage
● You have excellent oral and written communication skills in scientific English
● You have a critical mind, work precisely and are willing to learn new techniques
● You are expected to apply for a PhD grant through for example FWO or IWT
A full-time(100%) doctoral fellowship for one year which will be extended after positive evaluation.
● Starting date preferably by August 2018
● A stimulating research environment with opportunities to interact with local and international experts in the field
● You will be given opportunities to participate at national and international meetings
● KU Leuven offers a competitive salary, including extensive social security. KU Leuven is among the top European universities and provides with more than 40 000 students a vibrant environment for both research and living