Post-doc Modelling root-shoot signals and tip burn

Post-doc Modelling root-shoot signals and tip burn

Published Deadline Location
13 Apr 2 May Wageningen

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Job description

Are you an ambitious mathematical modeler that likes to address research question on plant physiology? Do you like to contribute to gain fundamental understanding to plant physiological phenomena relevant in the context of vertical farming? Then this could be the ideal research position for you!

Vertical farming is a novel technology where plants are grown on many stacked layers with LED light. The ambition of the vertical farming industry is to warrant a secure and sustainable vegetable supply: no pesticides, no nutrient emission, only 2-4 litres water per kg produce, at least twentyfold less land use, lower food mileage, less waste and lower energy use per kg produce compared to greenhouses.
We are hiring a postdoc, who will use a Functional-Structural Plant (FSP) modelling approach to gain fundamental understanding of two plant physiological phenomena relevant in the context of vertical farming:(i) root-shoot signaling and (ii) tip-burn.
  • i) Plants respond to the mechanical resistance perceived by roots resulting in changes in morphology and growth. There are different hypotheses for the mechanisms behind this "long-distance signalling". Next to hormonal and electrical mechanisms, a popular hypothesis revolves around hydraulic pulses To address this hypothesis, we will assess the dose response relation between root penetration resistance and leaf elongation rates. You will develop a functional structural plant (FSP) model, using newly developed and existing modelling concepts, to narrow down candidate mechanisms for root-borne long-distance signalling, i.e. hormonal, electrical or hydraulic.
  • ii) Tipburn, brown necrotic edges of the leaves, is a widespread problem in the production of leafy vegetables. Tipburn is generally considered as a consequence of local calcium (Ca) deficiency. Calcium distribution in the plant is related to transpiration distribution in the plant. Functional-Structural Plant (FSP) modelling will be employed combining the representation of three-dimensional (3D) plant structure with spatially resolved photosynthesis, transpiration and Ca distribution.
Your work which focuses on mathematical modelling, will be strongly linked to another post-doc who focuses on experimental approaches addressing the same questions, which will provide you with targeted high quality data for model development and validation.

You will be appointed at the Horticulture and Product Physiology group at Wageningen University. This group host an inter-disciplinary team of researchers and companies, an started a large research programme of 17 PhDs and Postdocs entitled SKY HIGH: Vertical farming, a revolution in plant production | NWO. Do you want to know more about our work at the Horticulture and Product Physiology group? Check out our page with news, recent publications and projects.


Wageningen University & Research


Are you that enthusiastic mathematical modeler that likes to address research question on plant physiology? We are looking for result-driven team player with creative ideas, excellent communication skills as well as good proficiency in English (both oral and written). This position requires an excellent English language proficiency.
  • You have a PhD in plant sciences and you have published some high-quality papers in peer-reviewed journals.
  • You enjoy supervising BSc, MSc and PhD students and have excellent collaboration skills.
  • You are capable to operate in an international and multi-disciplinary environment.
  • You have proven knowledge on plant physiological processes and how to create a mathematical description thereof.
  • You can develop plant models using a popular programming langue such as: Java (XL), Javascript, Python, Matlab, R, or C++.

Conditions of employment

We are offering an exciting and challenging position for 3 years. A challenging position with, depending on your experience, a competitive salary from a minimum of €2.790,- to a maximum of €4.402,- for a full working week of 38 hours in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement Wageningen University (scale 10). We offer you a temporary contract for 12 months which will be extended if you perform well.

In addition, we offer:
  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • an end-of-the-year bonus of 8.3% of your annual salary
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be determined in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • make use of the sports facilities on campus for a small fee.
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with our internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for personal initiative in a learning environment. With us you get a versatile job in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere, with students and staff from over 100 countries around the world.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the "Best University" in the Netherlands for the 15th consecutive time.


Wageningen University & Research

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University and Research is "To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life". Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 6.500 employees and 12.500 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen's unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

These are the points our employees list as good reasons to come work at WUR: read the 5 reasons to come work at WUR.

The chair group Horticulture & Product Physiology
Together with a consortium of an inter-disciplinary team of researchers and companies, we have started a large research programme of 17 PhDs/Postdocs entitled SKY HIGH: Vertical farming, a revolution in plant production | NWO

The chair group Horticulture and Product Physiology conducts high impact research and educates students providing the scientific basis required to answer questions that are of utmost importance for sustainable crop production and product quality in horticulture.
The research focus is on how physiological processes in crops, plants and plant organs interact with the abiotic environment and how this affects crop production and product quality. Questions arising from horticultural practice are translated into fundamental research topics, aiming to explain mechanisms. The research and education contributes to sustainably feeding the World with healthy high-quality products.
The chair group is an international team consisting of 14 permanent staff members, about 25 PhD candidates and postdocs and a number of guest researchers. Each year about 40 MSc students conduct their thesis study (a 6-month research) at our group. We organize and participate in a variety of courses for BSc and MSc students to transfer knowledge on horticulture (pre- and post harvest), environmental physiology and product quality.

More info about the chair group can be found at

This project is a collaboration with the Centre for Crop Systems Analysis (CSA) at Wageningen UR ( CSA contributes to the development of high quality plant production in sustainable agro-ecosystems through research and teaching. The emphasis is on improvement and innovation of plant production at various levels of integration; from genotypes to cropping systems and production chains. The group's core expertise is the quantification of complex and often non-linear interactions between plants (or genotypes), management and the environment (G×M×E).

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • Postdoc
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • Doctorate
  • 714792


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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