Two postdoctoral fellowships are open, one at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and one at the Department of Plant Physiology, which is part of the Umeå Plant Science Centre (www.upsc.se). Both departments are part of the Chemical Biological Centre (www.kbc.umu.se), which is as well as Umeå Plant Science Centre, a highly stimulating research environment at Umeå University.
We are looking for two highly motivated candidates to the projects “Evolutionarily conserved mechanisms of stress response that converge on Mediator and chromatin structure” and “Decoding Signalling Networks Controlling Plant Stress Responses”, two large multidisciplinary 5-year projects that involve several research groups.

Last day to apply: 29 February, 2020

Project description

We propose that plant stress responses are mediated by a central regulatory hub, the multiprotein Mediator complex, an evolutionarily conserved co-regulator complex required for transcription of all RNA polymerase II-dependent genes in eukaryotes. Our hypothesis is that Mediator integrates different stress signals to control the expression of genes required for stress acclimation through direct interaction with transcription factors and cis-elements and/or through chromatin remodelling. To reveal the regulatory mechanisms of Mediator and to functionally define stress responses at all organisational levels we will construct a holistic model of plant stress responses by combining multilayer network algorithms and hidden Markov models. Integrating collected experimental data from the different organisational levels, e.g. from the input signals, through the receiving mediator subunits and out to the changes in gene expression and the resultant stress response phenotype, will allow us to generate a dynamic and comprehensive model of the complex signalling networks triggered by exposure to stress.

The postdoctoral projects are part of two large and interdisciplinary projects, “Evolutionarily conserved mechanisms of stress response that converge on Mediator and chromatin structure” and “Decoding Signalling Networks Controlling Plant Stress Responses”, financed by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation and the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research”. The projects are multidisciplinary and provide challenging projects for postdoctoral training where the fellows will solve problems using methodologies from biology and physics, taking advantage of advanced technical platforms in the environment. The successful candidates will collaborate with other scientists and students in dynamic and multi-disciplinary environments.

Project 1, which will be done in Stefan Björklund’s group, concern RNAseq to identify target genes for different stress responses. Experiments will be performed both in wild type and in Mediator mutant lines which have been identified to display different types of stress related phenotypes. After identification, promoters of the target genes will be analysed for the presence of known cis-acting elements and common motifs. Occupancy of stress-related transcriptional activators/repressors and Mediator subunits to these promoters in response to stress, and their dependency of individual Mediator subunits will then be studied using ChIP sequencing.

Please find the full job description with reference number FS 2.1.6-152-20 for this project here.

Within project 2, that will be done in Åsa Strand’s group, we will determine if Mediator composition is static or if modules or individual subunits are rearranged in response to different types of stress. The general composition of Mediator is evolutionarily conserved and relatively well described for several eukaryotes from yeast to human. However, it is still unclear if its composition is static or if modules or individual subunits are rearranged e.g. in response to different types of stress. We will use a combination of biochemical and structural methods in order to characterize the composition-function relationship of the Arabidopsis Mediator in response to stress signalling. The emphasis will be on the kinase module and the CDK8 subunit of Mediator. We will use a unique Arabidopsis cell line as an experimental system in parallel with Arabidopsis plants.

Please find the full job description with reference number FS 2.1.6-57-20 for this project here.