Written by 6:17 am post-doctoral researcher

Postdoctoral Researcher in Molecular Microbiology of Anti-phage Defense Systems



LocationHelsinki, Finland

Deadline 29 Feb 2024

Ref 2912Academic


Life sciences, Biological Sciences

Job Type

Academic Posts, Postdocs

Contract Type

Fixed Term


Full Time

Microbial Ecology and Evolution Research group led by Professor Ville-Petri Friman at the Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki is looking for a postdoctoral researcher with background in molecular microbiology, genetics and evolution to a Novo Nordisk funded project: ‘Development of phage biocontrol to overcome the antiphage defense system arsenal of phytopathogenic Ralstonia solanacearum bacterium’.

About the position

This project aims to address the threat posed by plant-pathogenic bacterium Ralstonia solanacearum to food production by developing an innovative biocontrol method using its natural viral enemies, phages. While phages are specific to pathogens and environmentally safe, their efficacy is hindered by the rapid development of phage resistance, leading to incomplete protection in previous experiments.

To overcome this challenge, the project focuses on identifying antiphage defense systems crucial for R. solanacearum phage resistance.They will isolate phages capable of circumventing these defenses by evading recognition or deploying their counter-defense systems.

Bioinformatic techniques, such as pangenome analysis of an unpublished strain collection, will help identify antiphage defense systems. Gene neighborhood analysis will uncover novel defense mechanisms through guilt-by-association. Experimental validation will involve cloning these defense systems individually and in combination in the “null mutant” background. A tomato infection model will be employed to identify systems actively expressed in planta. Lastly,they will identify and isolate phages capable of countering these defenses, ensuring the development of evolution-proof phage biocontrol cocktails.

They are actively seeking a dedicated postdoctoral researcher with expertise in molecular microbiology, genetics/bioinformatics, and evolution to join their international team. The ideal candidate should hold a Ph.D. in molecular microbiology or a related field, with strong written and verbal communication skills in English. The postdoctoral position spans three years, commencing in April 2024, and is co-supervised by Vasili Hauryliuk and Gemma Atkinson at Lund University, Sweden, offering valuable networking and training opportunities within the phage research community.


  • Doctoral degree in molecular or microbiology, genetics, or another relevant field.
  • Experience in construction of bacterial mutants using genetic engineering. Experience in plant pathology, bacteria pathogenesis, microbial ecology, evolution or phage biology are desirable.
  • Ability to conceive, execute, and complete research projects independently.
  • Creativity and good group-working skills.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English.

The offer

  • Competitive salary, high-quality local infrastructure and a top-level interdisciplinary and international collaboration network.
  • State-of-art computational resources from the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC).
  • Training for microbial bioinformatics and plant pathology (if needed).
  • Possibility to visit collaborators at the Lund University, and other Universities, depending on training needs and candidate preferences.
  • Supportive and non-discriminative working environment.

The salary of the postdoctoral researcher will be based on level 5 of the demands level chart for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of Finnish universities. In addition, the appointee will be paid a salary component based on personal performance. The starting salary of the postdoctoral researcher will be ca. 3410–3600 euros/month, depending on the appointees’ qualifications and experience. A six-month trial period will be applied. The workplace of the position is in Helsinki.

How to apply

Please submit your application as a single pdf file in English using the University of Helsinki Recruitment System. Please include the following in your application: 

  • A motivation letter (max. 2 pages) including descriptions of the candidate’s:
    • background and methodological skills relevant for the position
    • research interest or a vision for the research conducted in this position
    • past experience on working in multidisciplinary groups or research environments
  • CV that includes a list of publications 
  • Names and contact details of two referees 

External applicants, please submit your application using the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via Apply Now button.

Applicants who have a helsinki.fi -username and a valid employment contract, a grant researcher’s contract or a visiting researcher’s contract at the University of Helsinki are requested to leave their application by using the Employee login.

The deadline for the applications is the 29th of February 2024, while the earliest start date is the 1st of April 2024

The University of Helsinki welcomes applicants from a variety of genders, linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Further information

About the Department of Microbiology and Finland

The department of Microbiology is part of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry and is located on the Viikki campus.The research focuses on microbial ecology and evolution, as well as the application of microbiology in agriculture and forestry, food production, medicine, environmental sciences and microbial biotechnology. The mission of the faculty is to promote the sustainable use of renewable natural resources, covering the full natural resource chain from farm to fork, the entire field of forest sciences from soil chemistry to marketing, as well as the environmental effects of related activities.  www.helsinki.fi/en/faculty-of-agriculture-and-forestry

Finland is one of the most livable countries, with a high quality of life, safety and excellent education system.  Finland is a member of the EU, has high quality and inexpensive childcare, free schooling and tertiary training (also in English), generous family benefits and healthcare, and was recently ranked as the best country in the world for expat families. The successful candidate will receive the benefits provided by the University of Helsinki to university employees, including occupational health care services, and obtain access to high-quality public affordable childcare services and schools.

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Last modified: February 2, 2024