Postdoctoral position OT-11363

Modeling root system plasticity and its genetic variability in response to drought and low nitrogen in wheat

34060 Montpellier

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INRAE presentation

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

You will be welcomed in the Laboratory for Plant Ecophysiology under Environmental Stresses (LEPSE) located in Montpelier. We are seeking an outstanding, motivated candidate for a two-years Post-Doctoral position in root system modeling as part of the H2020 project SolACE. SolACE is inspired by the aim of finding “Solutions for improving Agroecosystem and Crop Efficiency for water and nutrient use”. In that project, our task is finding the best combinations of belowground traits to optimize plant foraging efficiency in suboptimal water and N supply scenarios.

Our strategy is to use crop models that are popular tools in plant sciences to integrate our knowledge about complex plant processes and performance as influenced their environment and their genotype (Muller and Martre, 2019). However, whereas above-ground processes have been the main focus in crop models for decades, the root part has been largely ignored and/or simplified due to difficulty and complexity in root phenotyping and limited access to root data. To fill this gap, you will develop an ecophysiological model of root growth and plasticity in response to spatio-temporal variations of soil water and nitrogen resources. The starting point will be the 3D root architectural model ArchiSimple that we have recently integrated into the wheat crop model SiriusQuality. An important aspect of the model will be that several genotypic parameters will be estimated in root phenotyping platforms. This will allow you to use this model to explore the value of root traits that have already been phenotyped for a bread and durum genetic panel in root platforms (4PMI, INREA; RootPhAir, UCLouvain) and in semi-field conditions (RadiMax, Univ. Copenhagen) and propose root ideotypes to improve wheat performance in suboptimal water and N supply scenarios.

You will collaborate with SolACE partners at INRAE, UCLouvain and Univ Copenhagen. You will join a multi-disciplinary group of plant ecophysiologists, modelers, geneticists, and computer scientists. You will have access to state of the art laboratory, experimental, and computer facilities. Montpellier is a city of 270,000 ideally located in the south of France, on the Mediterranean sea. With over 3,000 researchers, Montpellier is the largest European center for plant sciences and agronomy.

Training and skills


Recommended training:

  • A PhD degree in plant modeling, ecophysiology or a closely related field.


 Knowledge required:

  • Strong background in plant physiology or ecology.
  • Strong scientific knowledge in applied mathematics and numerical modelling.
  • Good knowledge in object oriented programming (C#, C++, or Java).
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English

Appreciated experience:

  • An experiment in root system (architecture and/or functioning) modeling will be strongly appreciated but is not required.
  • Proven record of research publications in peer-reviewed international journals.


Skills sought:

  • Ability to creatively identify and solve problems, use observational data to improve models and implement alternative solutions.
  • Ability to collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of scientists, and to write publications in English.

INRAE's life quality

By joining our teams, you benefit from (depending on the type of contract and its duration):

- up to 30 days of annual leave + 15 days "Reduction of Working Time" (for a full time);
parenting support: CESU childcare, leisure services;
- skills development systems: trainingcareer 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.

How to apply

I send my CV and my motivation letter

Offer reference

  • Contract: Postdoctoral position
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Beginning: As soon as possible
  • Remuneration: 42,672 – 49,248 € (commensurate with experience and qualification)
  • Reference: OT-11363
  • Dealine: 23/06/2021
Centre Occitanie-Montpellier

UMR0759 LEPSE 34060 Montpellier