Postdoctoral Fellow Metaplantcode

Postdoctoral Fellow Metaplantcode

Published Deadline Location
2 Feb 29 Feb Leiden

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We are seeking a postdoc as part of the European BIodiversa+ funded project METAPLANTCODE Harmonizing plant metabarcoding pipelines in Europe to support monitoring activities. This consortium encompasses partners from 10 European countries. Naturalis receives funding for this project from NWO between April 2024 and March 2027.

Job description

Currently, two out of five plant species are threatened with extinction, which affects many other organisms. Plant metabarcoding, including analyzing environmental DNA, is currently not standardized, preventing high-throughput large-scale analyses. METAPLANTCODE will harmonize best practices for metabarcoding of plants collected across Europe to accelerate species monitoring and integrate biodiversity data. Existing pipelines for species identification are standardized and linked to reference databases. Best practices on FAIR data publishing will be incorporated in the GBIF and INSDC websites. ELIXIR-compatible DL-models will be implemented in novel tools. 

We are seeking a postdoctoral researcher to take part in METAPLANTCODE and lead processing of plant DNA sequence data. The aim is to standardize species identification through links with (inter)national checklists, red lists, floras, and the Catalogue of Life. Literature will be semantically enriched with new entity recognition modules. A newly built interface will link taxonomic names and facilitate conversion. Knowledge transfer to species organizations will occur in workshops.




  • PhD qualification in plant biology or a related discipline;
  • Strong scientific track record;
  • Proficient in coding;  
  • Proven experience with bio-informatic scripts for analysis of DNA-data;
  • Expertise in plant identification and species delimitation;
  • You have strong communication and presentation skills;
  • You have excellent collaboration and networking skills;
  • You are highly motivated, think creatively and are eager to give direction to your innovative ideas;
  • You have an excellent level of written and oral English.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year with extension possibility.

A contract for a period of one year, to be extended with 22 months after a successful evaluation and a monthly salary between € 3,468.- and € 4,506.- gross per month (depending on relevant experience) based on a fulltime (36-hour) working week. Starting date is the first of June at the latest. Other benefits include an allowance for travel expenses, holiday allowance (8%) and year-end bonus (3.4%) - as according to the Dutch Museum CLA. The successful candidate will be employed by Naturalis in Leiden. We provide a vibrant and inspiring working environment with ample support to our scientific staff by our Research Coordination Office and access to state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, ICT infrastructure, and 43 million natural history objects. At Naturalis, you will get the opportunity to further develop your research career and work together with inspiring colleagues.



Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden is the Dutch national research institute for biodiversity and systematics. We host over 120 researchers including 15 academia embedded professors, 50 PhD students and 20 postdoctoral fellows. We closely collaborate with many Dutch universities, research institutes, industry, and government. With our collection of 43 million specimens, one of the world's largest natural history collections, and our state-of-the-art research facilities we offer the (inter)national research infrastructure for species identification and monitoring (for example in the ARISE and eDentity projects). We present the history of our planet, and the diversity of life on Earth, through permanent and temporary museum exhibitions, educational programmes, and online presence, with more than 400,000 visitors per year. All in all, a unique combination of science and culture in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the world!

Biodiversity drives the fundamental ecosystem processes that we depend on. Naturalis focuses on evolution, fossil and extant species identification and monitoring biodiversity. Biodiversity is a multidisciplinary and multi stakeholder topic. So we do not cover all biodiversity research ourselves. Naturalis is about species. We combine our knowledge of species with promising novel technologies such as metagenomics, artificial intelligence, data science and 3D imaging. 

We aim to accelerate the discovery of species and their interactions in ecosystems. For this, we will create exciting new multidisciplinary lines of research and we will train scientists, students and experts to become world-leading in this new frontier research.

Ever since the 18th century, taxonomists have been naming and describing the plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms that share our planet today and in the past. Although about 2 million species are now known, research suggests there are at least 10 and probably more than 20 million species on Earth, meaning that 80-90% of our world’s biodiversity is still undiscovered! At the same time, we are witnessing alarming biodiversity declines. Reports indicate that 1 million species are currently threatened with extinction. It is increasingly recognized that biodiversity loss is one of the most significant threats to the environment and to our ability to transition to a sustainable future. These circumstances call for transformational scientific progress and serious action. We believe that we, as Naturalis, can play an important role in this transformation by:

  • Foster excellence in science and innovation in the field of biology and earth sciences;
  • Offer training for scientists, students and experts to provide sustainable capacity building in the field of taxonomy;
  • Provide a vibrant scientific environment for early-stage and mid-career researchers and foster their academic career;
  • Provide and maintain a sustainable state-of-the-art (inter)national research infrastructure;
  • Further support and strengthen the national research community in the field of biology;
  • Further develop an extensive (inter)national network that connects academia, society, government, industry and the general public;
  • Extend our outreach to the general public by not only focussing on our visitors, but also by engaging with new audiences outside the museum, and by using citizen science;
  • Expand our role in Dutch national science policy by calling for an ambitious biodiversity strategy in societal and political agendas.

Find out more about our research, labs and collection.

This postdoctoral position will be based in the Evolutionary Ecology group.


  • Postdoc; Research, development, innovation
  • Health; Natural sciences
  • max. 36 hours per week
  • €3468—€4506 per month
  • Doctorate
  • AT NAT 20240202


Darwinweg 2, 2333 CR, Leiden

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