Junior Research Scientist in cell biology - Functional role of extracellular vesicles in plant-fungus interactions


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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

The BIOGER Research Unit develops multi-disciplinary approaches (genomics, molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, population genetics, evolution, epidemiology, modeling) and multi-scale approaches (from gene to landscape) to fungal diseases of economically important field crops. Our research generates both fundamental and operational scientific knowledge, enabling us to meet the expectations of society and various agricultural sectors for effective, sustainable management of fungal diseases of field crops, in line with current agro-ecology concepts, to minimize pesticide use while maintaining crop quality and yield. BIOGER comprises 23 permanent researchers and engineers, 22 support staff, and 10 PhD students and post-doctoral fellows. It is located in the heart of the first french university, Université Paris-Saclay, and has first-class buildings and infrastructures at its disposal.

A major research focus of the unit is on the functional characterization of fungal effectors of pathogenesis, including small secreted proteins, specialized metabolites and small RNAs. However, the mechanisms by which fungi transfer these effectors to their host cells remain largely unknown. Recent work in mammals and plants has shown that extracellular vesicles (EVs) mediate intercellular communication by carrying bioactive molecules. To date, only fungal EVs formed in vitro have been isolated, which consequently do not contain the many virulence factors that are produced only in presence of the plant host. This raises a number of key questions: How are fungal EVs formed? What cargo molecules do they transport during plant infection? Does their composition change at different stages of infection? How do they cross the fungal wall? How are they taken up by plant cells?
The host team has isolated EVs from axenic cultures of Colletotrichum higginsianum and obtained their proteome. To take forward this work, you will develop biomarkers of fungal EVs that will enable (i) their selective purification from infected plants and thus (ii) analysis of their protein, metabolite and RNA content, (iii) their monitoring by state-of-the-art imaging techniques, from their biogenesis to their secretion and subsequent uptake into plant cells. You will continue the work initiated on C. higginsianum and then should transpose it to other ascomycota models studied at BIOGER. By developing this scientific frontier, your project will contribute to making BIOGER a recognized centre for fungal EV research and to developing novel control methods, for example targeting EV secretion.

Training and skills

PhD or equivalent

The competition is open to candidates with a PhD (or equivalent) in cell biology.

Expertise in cell biology and microscopy is essential. Experience with extracellular vesicles is desirable. Experience in protein and/or lipid biochemistry as in RNA would be appreciated. Knowledge of plant/pathogen interactions would be an advantage but not essential.

Fluency in English is desirable, as is long-term international experience: candidates who have not already had such experience will be required to spend a year abroad at the end of the probationary 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

All persons employed by or hosted at INRAE, a public research establishment, are subject to its internal regulations, particularly with regard to the obligation of neutrality and respect for the principle of secularism. In carrying out their functions, whether or not they are in contact with the public, they must not express their religious, philosophical or political convictions through their behaviour or by what they wear.  

Offer reference

  • Profile number: CR-2024-SPE-4
  • Corps: CR
  • Category: A
  • Open competition number: 38
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