Christiane Funk's research group at the Department of Chemistry at Umeå University is seeking a postdoc for a project where the aim is to characterize the structure and function of metacaspase-like proteases in cyanobacteria and unicellular algae.

Last day to apply: 25 September, 2020

Project description and working tasks

Cyanobacteria and algae have a potential commercial value as microbial producers of fuel or products with higher value. However, in nature their blooms also are threatening health and industrial benefits. To learn more about the viability of large algal/bacterial cultures we plan to study the protease family of metacaspases and their homologues in unicellular photosynthetic organisms. Studies will be performed in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, the cryptophyte Giardia theta and the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. The projects are connected to strong research environments at Umeå University and will be managed through regular meetings between the Postdoc and the involved scientists.

Caspase proteases have been identified as key players in programmed cell death (PCD) of animals. Despite their importance in organ development, caspases seem to be absent in all other kingdoms (plants, fungi, bacteria), however, a broad range of structural homologues have been identified in these organisms, termed metacaspases, paracaspases and orthocaspases. In higher plants the various types of metacaspases seem not only to be involved in cell death processes, but some also to have important prosurvival and/or housekeeping roles. The functions of meta- and orthocaspases in single-cell organisms still are enigmatic. We will investigate the role of metacaspase-homologues in single-cell photosynthetic organisms (microalgae and cyanobacteria).

The postdoctoral position will be a part of Christiane Funk's research group at the Department of Chemistry. The research group is also active at Umeå Plant Science Centre ( The employment is full-time for a period of two years, starting at a date decided in agreement between the two parties.


The required qualification is a doctoral degree or a foreign degree that is deemed equivalent in biochemistry or molecular biology or equivalent. To be eligible the degree must have been completed a maximum of three years before the end of the application period unless certain circumstances exist.

It is required to have a solid background in molecular biology and biochemistry and experimental skills in molecular biology and/or biochemistry on photosynthetic microorganisms. It is therefore required to have experience from working with cyanobacteria, preferably with Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 and/or unicellular algae, e.g. Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. A good publication record in international reviewed journals is required. A strong motivation to learn, an ability to develop new methods, and an ability to work in an interdisciplinary environment, are also required. You must have good ability to co-operate and very good skills in oral and written English.

Knowledge of gene editing techniques like CRISPR are desired as well as previous experience working with proteases.

Please find the full job description on the Umeå University homepage: