Junior research scientist in insect chemical ecology


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INRAE presentation

The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (INRAE) is a public research establishment under the dual authority of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Research.

INRAE is recruiting researchers by open competition and offering permanent position.

It is a major player in research and innovation created on 1st of January 2020. INRAE is a research institute resulting from the merger of INRA and IRSTEA. It is a community of 12,000 people with more than 200 research units and 42 experimental units located throughout France.

The institute is among the world leaders in agricultural and food sciences, in plant and animal sciences, and is 11th in the world in ecology and environment. INRAE’s main goal is to be a key player in the transitions necessary to address major global challenges. In the face of the increase in population, climate change, scarcity of resources and decline in biodiversity, the institute develops solutions for multiperformance agriculture, high quality food and sustainable management of resources and ecosystems.

Work environment, missions and activities

Within the research unit iEES-Paris (Institute of Ecology and Environmental Sciences of Paris), the research carried out in the department of Sensory Ecology focuses on chemical communication in insects, and its contribution to the adaptation of their physiology and behavior in their environment. This department has 21 permanent staff, including 15 scientists and engineers, spread over two sites, Sorbonne University in Paris and INRAE in Versailles. You will be assigned to the NEO team (NeuroEthology of Olfaction) in Versailles, within the sensory ecology department. The department's research focuses on the olfactory detection of chemical signals (from insects and plants), alone or in their complexity, and their perception by the insect.
The studies are based on various experimental approaches (molecular, cellular, and at the scale of the organism) to understand the responses of the insect to a simple olfactory signal (odor molecules taken individually). Today, the knowledge acquired on our model species allows us to consider taking into account the complexity of the environment, in particular the multiplicity of odorants that compose it and their variations, to approximate in the laboratory the natural conditions of agrobiocenoses. This work is at the crossroads of several disciplines (chemical ecology, functional genomics, neuroscience) for which the department is well integrated into national and global networks. You will be in charge of
i) identifying the odor molecules relevant to the insect, whether they are emitted by insects, their host/non-host plants, or even their predators or parasites, and
ii) studying the impact of their mixtures on insect behavior.
The research questions translate as follows: how are the complex odor signals identified through physicochemical analysis interpreted by the insect pest in terms of behavior, in a context mimicking natural conditions? How do these signals contribute to food preferences (monophagy/polyphagy) and the colonization of new niches? This work will feed the reverse chemical ecology approaches carried out in the sensory ecology department and vice versa, linking mechanistic and neurobiological studies and the development of biocontrol solutions. Your work will be carried out on laboratory model insects (noctuid moths) but also on invasive species (e.g. fall armyworm) and field crop pests (e.g. rapeseed) for which the use of chemical mediators is still underdeveloped.

Training and skills

PhD or equivalent

Candidates must have a PhD or equivalent.
Sound expertise in insect chemical ecology, with a taste for multidisciplinary approaches (functional genomics, neurobiology, physico-chemistry, and olfactometry), is highly recommended.
Candidates should have a good command of English (both written and spoken), and long-term international experience would also be desirable. Successful candidates who have not yet acquired this experience abroad will be required to do so after their probationary period (1st year).

INRAE's life quality

By joining our teams, you benefit from:

- 30 days of annual leave + 15 days "Reduction of Working Time" (for a full time);
- parenting support: CESU childcare, leisure services;
- skills development systems: training, career advise;
- social support: advice and listening, social assistance and loans;
- holiday and leisure services: holiday vouchers, accommodation at preferential rates;
sports and cultural activities;
- collective catering.

For international scientists: please visit your guide to facilitate your arrival and stay at INRAE

Offer reference

  • Profile number: CR-2023-SPE-5
  • Corps: CRCN
  • Category: A
  • Open competition number: 33
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