PhD position in ectomycorrhizal biology and soil biodiversity

We are looking for a highly-motivated PhD student to join our research team interested in deciphering ectomycorrhizal symbiosis in tree roots. In this project, you will perform pioneering work to develop a high-throughput Raman spectroscopy based method to identify ectomycorrhizal fungi in soil and root samples from the forest. You will validate this method with morphological analysis (involving microscopy) and DNA-amplicon sequencing based fungal identification and apply the new method to a variety of case studies. These latter involve the investigation of the effect of different harvesting strategies on ectomycorrhizal biodiversity in experimental plots owned by our industry partner Bergvik Skog. You will also perform fungal cultivation experiments leading to inoculation of pine tree seedlings and study the seedling’s growth performance and the development of their ectomycorrhizal flora before and after out-planting onto forest sites.

You will be employed as a PhD student for 4 years in the Felten group ( at the Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, which forms together with the Department of Plant Physiology, Umeå University, the Umeå Plant Science Centre ( This project is carried out in collaboration with Prof. V. Hurry’s group ( and Dr. N. Delhomme at the UPSC bioinformatics platform. UPSC is a leading research institute in experimental plant biology with a friendly and international atmosphere providing a highly stimulating environment for PhD studies. UPSC offers excellent facilities for tree research, bioinformatics, microscopy and access to Umeå University’s Vibrational Spectroscopy Platform. This project involves an industrial partner (Bergvik Skog) (, one of Europe’s largest private land owners, producing environmentally certified forest raw materials. Umeå is a vibrant university town and has been Europe’s cultural capital in 2014. From here you have good connections via Stockholm to the rest of the world. Umeå’s location in the Northern boreal forest belt provides excellent opportunities for the nature interested and easy access to different outdoor activities.

Molecular understanding of sugar mediated growth control
The overexpression of bZIP11, a transcription factor involved in the response to sugars, inhibits growth of Arabidopsis seedlings (Hanson et al., 2008). A transcriptomic approach has highlighted genes implicated in primary carbon metabolism as direct transcriptional targets of bZIP11 (Ma et al., 2011).

We recently showed that a mutation in these genes results in a partial to total rescue of the bZIP11 overexpression phenotype and therefore hypothesized that other mutations may as well result in the same rescue. To identify these mutants, an EMS mutagenesis has been performed on the bZIP11 overexpressing line suitable for a suppressor screen.

The aims of this project are to screen the M2 population deriving from this mutagenesis and to further characterize the mutants in physiological and molecular methodology.

Contact: Thomas Dobrenel (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Johannes Hanson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)