Postdoctoral Researcher (Banfield Group)

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a Postdoctoral Researcher to join the Banfield Group at the John Innes Centre, on a BBSRC grant funded project.


The project will address the interaction between a newly identified family of effector proteins from the cereal crop pathogen M. oryzae (which causes blast disease on wheat, barley, rice and other grasses), with host proteins of relevance to both pathogen virulence and host immunity. Both bacterial and filamentous plant pathogens deploy translocated effector proteins to perturb host cell physiology for the benefit of the pathogen. These changes are mediated by molecular interactions, many of them between proteins. Plant immunity is triggered upon pathogen detection by dedicated immune receptors. Intracellular plant immune receptors of the NLR class are modular receptors that survey the host intracellular environment for signatures of pathogens, including translocated effectors. Some plant NLRs work in pairs and contain unconventional integrated domains proposed to act as baits for pathogen molecules. These bait domains maybe structurally and/or sequence-related to the effector’s virulence-associated target, suggesting a common evolutionary origin. This evolutionary relationship offers opportunities for immune receptor engineering.

The role

This role will dissect the relationship between specific virulence-associated host proteins and NLR bait domains as interactors of effectors. We aim to use this information to design new specificities for plant NLRs that may have utility in crop disease control. The position would suit researchers interested in the molecular mechanisms that underpin how plant pathogens perturb host cell processes for their own benefit, and how plants respond to attack through immunity-related signalling, with a focus on biochemistry, structural biology, discovery proteomics, and plant genetics. The post-holder will work independently, showing initiative within a multidisciplinary project. They will also work with key national and international collaborators (including the group of Matthew Moscou at The Sainsbury Laboratory (Norwich), and Ryohei Terauchi at IBRC in Kitakami, Japan). The post-holder will have opportunities to develop their technical and transferable skills through training programmes, coaching and mentoring. The post-holder will carry out independent research work, of relevance to the funded grant, under the guidance of the project leader and as part of his research team.

The ideal candidate

The John Innes Centre is a world-class research institute and is looking to appoint an exceptional candidate who has, or expects to soon receive, a PhD in the areas of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, or related discipline, and preferably with experience in plant science or plant-microbe interactions. The ideal candidate will have a keen enthusiasm for research and will be able to demonstrate their long-term career aspirations in science. As well as the ability to carry out independent work, they must also be a strong team player and have excellent communication skills.

Additional information

Interviews will be held on 20th October 2021.

Further information and details of how to apply can be found here, or contact the Human Resources team on 01603 450462 or  quoting reference 1004109.

We are an equal opportunities employer, actively supporting inclusivity and diversity.  As a Disability Confident organisation, we guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for this vacancy. We are proud to hold a prestigious Gold Athena SWAN award in recognition of our inclusive culture, commitment and good practices towards advancing of gender equality. We offer an exciting, stimulating, diverse research environment and actively promote a family friendly workplace. The Institute is also a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme.

The John Innes Centre is a registered charity (No. 223852) grant-aided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.



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