May 12, 2017

PhD Position in Life Sciences

Within the IRTG 1830, the following PhD Position is available with immediate effect:

Molecular decoding of intracellular fatty acid transport proteins - structure, function and impact on development

(in the lab of Prof. Dr. Katrin Philippar, Plant Biology, Natural Sciences and Technology - Life Sciences, Saarland University, Saarbr├╝cken)

Fatty acids (FA) are building-blocks for the majority of cellular lipids, which are not only essential for membrane function, but also are necessary for growth and development. Further, plant-derived lipids are of biotechnological importance, e.g. for production of biodiesel or nutrient improvement. Since plant de novo FA synthesis takes place in plastids, export to the ER for acyl editing and lipid assembly is necessary. FA/lipid transport proteins thereby represent a bottleneck for cellular distribution of lipophilic compounds. With the identification of FAX1 (Li et al. 2015, PLoS Biology 13(2): e1002053), we could describe the first membrane protein for FA transport across the inner envelope membrane of plastids. FA-transport function of FAX1 as demonstrated in yeast cells is crucial for plant biomass production, male fertility and synthesis of FA-derived compounds such as lipids, ketone waxes, or pollen cell wall material.
Within the IRTG1830 consortium we now would like to address structural aspects of the FAX-mediated transport. In higher plants FAX1 belongs to a family of proteins, which are not only predicted to localize to plastids, but also to membranes of the secretory pathway. In yeast and vertebrates FAX relatives are found in mitochondrial membranes and might be associated with pathological processes. Thus, we plan to follow an intracellular pathway for lipophilic compounds via novel transport proteins and mechanisms. This includes plastid to ER transfer, exchange between organelles, and the impact of this transport on plant development. We are looking for a highly motivated PhD student, interested in biochemistry and plant molecular physiology as well as structure-function analysis of membrane proteins.


The program includes a 6-months stay in a lab of our Canadian partners and offers excellent scientific and transferable skills training at all participating locations. The program language is English and there are no tuition fees. Successful candidates will receive either contracts (65% TVL13) or a competitive tax-free fellowship, as well as support with administrative matters, accommodation, visas etc. We invite applications from highly qualified and motivated students of any nationality and we are looking forward to your application for a PhD fellowship in our group.


Applications for the 3-year PhD program can be submitted with immediate effect. Applications can only be submitted via our online system: