Postdoctoral Fellow - Laboratory of Dr. Lena Mueller

Salk Institute for Biological Studies
La Jolla, CA

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Job Details

The Mueller lab is looking for several postdoctoral candidates to understand the molecular signaling mechanisms that control an intimate relationship between plants and beneficial soil fungi, arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis. Plants benefit from interacting with AM fungi by increased mineral nutrient uptake, whereas fungi obtain carbon products from their plant hosts. We apply a combination of molecular biology, genetics, advanced microscopy, and -omics approaches to understand how plant hosts control symbiosis in a changing environment. Here are examples of research areas:

Quantitative and qualitative control of AM symbiosis by the host plant: Plants tightly control the amount of root colonization by AM fungi through various cellular and systemic mechanisms. These mechanisms allow plants to balance carbon expenditure with the nutrient benefits provided by the fungal symbiont and are little understood especially in situations when they are exposed to multiple microbes at the same time. We study the molecular mechanisms that allow plants to control AM symbiosis based on fungus quantity and quality, with the goal to uncover novel mechanisms underpinning the regulation of plant-microbe interactions and host-symbiont preference.

Coordination of symbiosis and development: AM symbiosis causes physiological changes in the plant that result in enhanced photosynthesis in the shoots and increased carbon allocation to the roots (and, by extension, the microbial symbionts). These developmental adaptations depend on plant and fungal genotypes, as well as the environment. The goal of this project is to understand the molecular basis of how symbiotic interactions shape plant development, with the goal of identifying genetic pathways that can be altered to create plants with enhanced capacities to benefit from AM symbiosis and/or promote below-ground carbon allocation.

The role of CLE peptides and CLAVATA receptors in plant-microbe interactions: CLE peptides are mobile peptide hormones that – together with their cognate receptors – regulate various aspects of plant development as well as plant responses to environmental cues, including interaction with AM fungi and other microbes. Most plant genomes encode dozens of CLE peptides which respond to different environmental cues, but only relatively few bona fide CLE receptors. We aim to understand the molecular mechanisms of how CLE receptors perceive symbiosis-induced CLE signals and elicit a specific response.

The ideal candidates will be biologists who have training in plant and/or microbial science and expertise in molecular biology, plant physiology, biochemistry, and/or genetics. Experience with legume genetics, molecular plant-microbe interactions, and/or bioinformatics is desirable but not required. Candidates should be intellectually curious, highly productive, driven, and able to work independently as well as in a team. We are deeply committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment where every individual's unique background, perspective, and talents are valued.


Ph.D. in plant science or related fields.

Application Instructions:

Applicants should submit a current CV, a list of publications and pre-prints, the names and contact information of three references, and a description of why they want to join our lab and how their expertise and academic accomplishments make them a good fit for the position.

The full postdoctoral salary range for wet lab opportunities is $70,000-$77,500 (see below). This range covers the entire postdoctoral training period; recent Ph.D. graduates should expect an offer at or close to $70,000 (minimum of the salary range). Salk Institute provides pay ranges representing its good faith estimate of what the institute reasonably expects to pay for a position. The pay offered to a selected candidate will be determined based on factors such as (but not limited to) the scope and responsibilities of the position, the qualifications of the selected candidate, departmental budget availability, internal equity, geographic location, and external market pay for comparable jobs.

Experience Level/TierSalk Postdoc Salary0$70,0001$71,5002$73,0003$74,5004$76,0005$77,500

The Salk Institute is an internationally renowned research institution that values diversity, equity, and inclusion. We seek bold and interactive leaders passionate about exploring new frontiers in science. Our collaborative community embraces diverse perspectives and unique life experiences, fostering innovation, and a sense of belonging. Together, we strive to improve the wellbeing of humanity through groundbreaking research.



Working at Salk Institute for Biological Studies

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world's preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused on both discovery and mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.

Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.

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