PhD position OT-22079

PhD Studying the role of MUSASHI-like proteins in cell wall synthesis in Brachypodium and Arabidopsis


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INRAE presentation

The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment (INRAE) is a major player in research and innovation. It is a community of 12,000 people with 272 research, experimental research, and support units located in 18 regional centres throughout France. Internationally, INRAE is among the top research organisations in the agricultural and food sciences, plant and animal sciences, as well as in ecology and environmental science. It is the world’s leading research organisation specialising in agriculture, food and the environment. INRAE’s goal is to be a key player in the transitions necessary to address major global challenges. Faced with a growing world population, climate change, resource scarcity, and declining biodiversity, the Institute has a major role to play in building solutions and supporting the necessary acceleration of agricultural, food and environmental transitions.

Work environment, missions and activities


Context and PhD Subject: Lignocellulose is a significant carbon reservoir and a renewable source of material for human activities. It comprises cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin, mainly found in the secondary cell wall (SCW) of plant cells. The SCW is essential for sap transport in the xylem, vertical growth of the plant, and resistance against pathogens. The composition of the SCW varies significantly depending on cell type and developmental stage, particularly between dicotyledons and monocotyledons. Minor modifications in the SCW composition can lead to remarkable consequences on its physicochemical properties and, consequently, on plant development. The synthesis of the SCW is transcriptionally controlled by a hierarchical network of transcription factors. Despite the major role of these transcriptional mechanisms in SCW regulation, some studies also support the involvement of post-transcriptional mechanisms. The partners of the MUSAWALL ANR project have recently demonstrated the involvement of a family of RNA-binding proteins (MSILs) in controlling SCW deposition in Arabidopsis (Kairouani et al. 2023). These proteins show functional homology with the animal translational regulator MUSASHI and have been shown to impact SCW synthesis, particularly lignin deposition and the methylation of glucuronic acid in glucuronoxylans in Arabidopsis.

The PhD project aims to understand the impact of MSILs on grass cell walls using Brachypodium as a model on one hand, and to investigate in detail the wall phenotype of msil mutants in Arabidopsis on the other hand. The project combines advanced techniques in molecular biology, biochemistry, and cellular imaging to provide a comprehensive view of MSIL function in both dicotyledons and monocotyledons. This project will provide the candidate with extensive knowledge of cell wall regulation and structural organization, as well as proficiency in multiple techniques.

By joining INRAE, the PhD student will benefit from excellent working conditions in the Institute's facilities and equipment. The thesis project will be conducted within the multidisciplinary team "Paroi végétale et Polymères pariétaux" (PVPP) in the INRAE-BIA unit in Nantes, comprising 15 permanent researchers and technicians. INRAE BIA offers access to all necessary equipment and methodologies for the study, particularly those of the BIBS instrumental platform. Additionally, the context will lead the candidate to collaborate with other international and national teams, primarily with those of the project located in Perpignan (LGDP) and Toulouse (LRSV).

Supervisors: Richard Sibout, Mathilde Francin-Allami, Luc Saulnier, Thierry Lagrange

Literature: Kairouani et al. 2023. Elife. 2023 Sep 29:12:RP88207. doi: 10.7554/eLife.88207.

Training and skills

Master's degree/Engineering degree


We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with knowledge (and preferably experience) in microscopy, molecular biology, and biochemistry methods. The candidate must be autonomous and also possess a strong ability to work within a team.

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: PhD position
  • Duration: 36 months
  • Beginning: 01/10/2024
  • Remuneration: between 2100€ and 2300€ /Month
  • Reference: OT-22079
  • Deadline: 20/06/2024
Centre Pays de la Loire

Biopolymères, Interactions et assemblages de Nantes (BIA) NANTES


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