Postdoctoral Research Scientist (Plant Metabolic Diversity)
Post Details
Job Title
Postdoctoral Research Scientist (Plant Metabolic Diversity)
Post Number
1003678
Closing Date
1 Jul 2019
Grade
SC6
Starting Salary
£31,250 - £38,100
Hours per week
37
Project Title
Investigating the metabolic diversity of UK flora
Expected/Ideal Start Date
05 Aug 2019
Months Duration
18

Job Description

Main Purpose of the Job

Plant metabolites play vital roles in growth and adaptation to a constantly changing environment, often by mediating resistance or attraction to other organisms. In addition, plant natural products remain one of the best sources of novel ingredients for medicines and industry. In this project, we will compare genome sequences with transcriptomic and metabolomic datasets to identify candidate genes responsible for the biosynthesis of target metabolites in UK plant species and explore the regulation and evolution of specialised metabolism in related species. Based in the Patron Lab at the Earlham Institute in collaboration with the Osbourn Lab at the John Innes Centre, this project will be linked to the Darwin Tree of Life Project, which aims to sequence all known UK eukaryotes. The scientist will be responsible for analysis of comparative transcriptome, genome and metabolome datasets, aiming to investigate the genetic basis of metabolic diversity and identify genes responsible for the presence of target metabolites.

Key Relationships

Internal: Group Leader, EI’s Deputy Directors, Director and Senior Management Team. EI’s Science Faculty and Research Teams.
External: Senior visitors to EI, collaborators, conference attendees, BBSRC and other key stakeholders.

Main Activities & Responsibilities

Percentage
Conduct individual and collaborative research projects according to the overall needs of the research program
80
Attend collaboration, department meetings and conferences, prepare presentations, reports and manuscripts
10
As agreed with line manager, any other duties commensurate with the nature of the role
10

Person Profile

Education & Qualifications

Requirement
Importance
PhD in Plant Biology, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Synthetic Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Bioinformatics or a related subject
Essential

Specialist Knowledge & Skills

Requirement
Importance
An understanding of secondary / specialised metabolism and knowledge of techniques and approaches used in its study
Essential
An understanding of molecular evolution and knowledge of methods use to investigate the evolution of gene families
Essential
An understanding of gene regulation in eukaryotes
Essential
Knowledge of the methods and approaches used for biosynthesis of natural products
Desirable
Knowledge of mass-spectrometry applications for metabolite identification
Desirable

Relevant Experience

Requirement
Importance
Experience with basic tools and software used for bioinformatic analyses of DNA sequences
Essential
Experience in analysis of genome or transcriptome data sets
Essential
Experience in basic molecular biology protocols e.g. purification of DNA/RNA
Essential
Excellent problem-solving skills with the ability to solve problems with numerous and complex variables
Essential
Experience in the molecular / biochemical analysis of plants or in the expression and biochemical characterisation of enzymes
Desirable
Experience in the analysis of mass-spectrometry data (e.g. GC-MS or LC-MS) for metabolite identification
Desirable
Experience in molecular cloning / DNA assembly
Desirable
Experience with the use of software packages (e.g. MEME or similar) to predict functional motifs in DNA sequences
Desirable

Interpersonal & Communication Skills

Requirement
Importance
Experience of writing scientific papers
Essential
Excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to work as part of a team
Essential
Demonstrated ability to work independently, using initiative and applying problem solving skills
Essential
Ability to prioritise to meet the demands of the group
Essential
Excellent communication skills, both written and oral, including the ability to present complex information with clarity
Essential
Ability to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders
Essential
Excellent time management and organisational skills
Essential
Promotes and strives for continuous improvement
Essential

Additional Requirements

Requirement
Importance
Promotes equality and values diversity
Essential
Willingness to work outside standard working hours when required
Essential
Ability to undertake occasional travel (national and international) related to collaborations and/or seminars
Essential
Willingness to embrace the expected values and behaviours of all staff at the Institute, ensuring it is a great place to work
Essential
Able to present a positive image of self and the Institute, promoting both the international reputation and public engagement aims of the Institute
Essential
Attention to detail
Essential

Who We Are

Earlham Institute

Earlham Institute is a vibrant, contemporary research institute and registered charity, working in an area of rapid technological development and innovation.

Earlham Institute is strategically funded by the BBSRC to lead the development of a skill base in bioinformatics and a genomics technology platform for UK bioscience. The Institute is located on the Norwich Research Park, together with its partners: the John Innes Centre, the Institute of Food Research, The Sainsbury Laboratory, the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. The research park has an excellent reputation for research in plant and microbial sciences, interdisciplinary environmental science and food, diet and health, to which Earlham Institute contributes strengths in genomics and bioinformatics. Close links exist between the NRP partners and new opportunities for collaboration in exciting new initiatives are under development. The NRP recently received £26M of government investment to facilitate innovation and further develop infrastructure to attract science and technology companies to the Park to enhance the vibrant environment and realise economic impact from research investment.

Earlham Institute is a UK hub for innovative Bioinformatics through research, analysis and interpretation of multiple, complex data sets. It hosts one of the largest computing hardware facilities dedicated to life science research in Europe. This has been boosted recently by an e-Infrastructure grant to expand the data storage capacity to a multi-petabyte unit, deploying a high performance cluster and large-memory server enabling the allocation of processes requiring several terabytes of computing memory.

Earlham Institute’s state of the art DNA sequencing facility operates multiple complementary technologies for data generation that provide the foundation for analyses furthering our fundamental understanding of genomes and how they function. We aim to be at the forefront of technological advances and are developing and implementing technologies to generate and analyse new types of data. We also develop novel platforms to provide access to computational tools and processing capacity for multiple academic and industrial users and promoting applications of computational bioscience. Earlham Institute has one fully owned subsidiary, Genome Enterprise Ltd (GEL) via which it offers genomic and bioinformatics services on a trading basis and works with commercial providers on a partnership basis. Earlham Institute also receives specific funding to enable knowledge exchange programmes which are supported across the institute teams.

Department

Engineering Biology

Group Details

The Patron Group is interested in developing sustainable bio-based manufacturing platforms and in understanding how gene regulatory sequences function and evolve. We use genomic, systems and synthetic biology approaches and are applying our knowledge to develop synthetic genetic networks for pathway and genome engineering in photosynthetic organisms. Our current projects aim at tailoring photosynthetic organisms for the efficient production of high value molecules and improving the yield and nutritional value of crops. Our research benefits from a close association with the Earlham DNA Foundry, the OpenPlant Synthetic Biology Research Centre.

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Postdoctoral Research Scientist (Plant Metabolic Diversity)

The Earlham Institute is looking for three motivated people to join the new Darwin Tree of Life Programme that aims to sequence the genomes of 66,000 known species of animals, plants, protozoa and fungi in the UK. This is part of a global effort to sequence the genomes of 1.5 million species on Earth.

Work at the Earlham Institute will focus on analysing genomes to further our understanding of evolutionary processes that drive biodiversity in populations and ecosystems. We are also involved in applying genomics to the conservation and management of valuable ecosystems and to the sustainable use of biodiversity for public good.

All three roles will be based at the Earlham Institute on the Norwich Research Park where they will join a diverse community of scientists with expertise in genomics, biology, evolution, bioinformatics, computing and biotechnology.

One of these roles is for a Postdoctoral Research Scientist to join the laboratory of Dr Nicola Patron.

Background:

The main aim of this project is to investigate the metabolic diversity of UK flora. In this project, we will identify candidate genes responsible for the biosynthesis of target metabolites in UK plant species and explore the regulation and evolution of specialised metabolism in related species. Based in the Patron Lab at the Earlham Institute and in collaboration with the Osbourn Lab at the John Innes centre, this BBSRC-funded project will be linked to the Darwin Tree of Life Programme that aims to sequence the genomes of all known eukaryotes in the UK.

The role:

This project will generate and compare genomic, transcriptomic and metabolomic datasets for a group of related plant species. The scientist will be responsible for conducting comparative analyses with the aim of exploring the genetic basis of metabolic diversity and identifying genes responsible for the presence of target metabolites. They will work in collaboration with other scientists at the Earlham Institute and John Innes Centre to characterise candidate genes, with the eventual aim of enabling biological production of novel, high-value metabolites.

The ideal candidate:

The candidate must have a PhD in Plant Biology, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Synthetic Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Bioinformatics or a related subject. The project would suit either a molecular biologist or biochemist experienced in the analysis of RNA-seq/metabolomic datasets, or a bioinformatician interested in applying their expertise to understanding metabolic diversification in plants. The candidate must be motivated and interested in the application of innovative technologies to natural product biology.

Additional information:

Salary on appointment will be within the range £31,250 - £38,100 per annum depending on qualifications and experience. This is a full time post for a contract of 18 months.

As a Disability Confident employer, we guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for this vacancy.

The closing date for applications will be 1 July 2019.