The University of Nevada, Reno, Biochemistry department is recruiting for a Postdoctoral Research Scholar. This position is available for up to three years to work on an NSF-funded project to apply innovative synthetic biology approaches for curtailing photorespiration and improving water-use efficiency via the introduction of synthetic crassulacean acid metabolism into C3 photosynthesis crops. Crassulacean acid metabolism and tissue succulence are metabolic and anatomical adaptations that improve water-use efficiency and drought (and salinity) stress tolerance in plants. These traits are among the most widespread and successful adaptations in the plant kingdom for mitigating drought stress, and thus, represent highly useful traits for the design of climate-resilient crops. The goal of this project is to test optimized synthetic versions of crassulacean acid metabolism alone and in combination with engineered tissue succulence. The project will also increase public awareness of the need for more climate-resilient crops through science communication training and video and social media outreach to showcase the societal benefit of these biotechnological innovations. The broader impacts of the project include improving national food, feed, fiber, and biofuel security by enhancing crop productivity, water-use efficiency, and drought/salinity tolerance in a changing environment.
The successful applicant will assume a leading role in completing project objectives including: The proposed research will generate optimized synthetic carboxylation, decarboxylation, starch degradation, and complete crassulacean acid metabolism gene circuits. The resulting plants will be evaluated for improved growth, productivity, water-use efficiency, and water-deficit and salinity tolerance. In addition, plants expressing optimized crassulacean acid metabolism gene circuits will be evaluated with and without engineered tissue succulence in Arabidopsis and soybean, a critically important C3 photosynthesis crop for the U.S. Empirical testing will be accompanied by detailed, genome-scale transcriptomic and metabolome profiling and diel flux balance analysis modeling to corroborate energetic efficiency predictions for each iteration of the synthetic crassulacean acid metabolism gene circuits. The successful applicant will also participate in outreach and training goals ensuring the training of an increasingly diverse scientific workforce through recruitment of underrepresented students, providing training and preparedness of future scientists in scientific communication, increasing public awareness of the need to improve the climate-resiliency of crops using videos describing the concepts of synthetic CAM and engineered tissue succulence, and assessing training, outreach, and engagement activities for didactic and societal impacts. For more information about the project please see: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tpj.14783
The position is in the laboratory of Dr. John Cushman in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Nevada, Reno. The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is one of four departments within the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources. The department has approximately 400 undergraduate students, 20 graduate students, and 17 faculty members with areas of emphasis in arthropods, human health, and plants. The department has access to well-established, state-of-the-art facilities including cores for Genomics, Proteomics, Bioinformatics, and Imaging. The University of Nevada, Reno is located in the Reno/Sparks metroplex has a population of greater than 350,000 and is located in the Truckee Meadows on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range about four hours east of San Francisco.
Candidates must have a Ph.D. in a molecular life science field by time of appointment and a solid background in plant molecular genetics, plant biochemistry, and plant physiology including gas exchange measurements and quantitative assessment of plant growth and development.
Experience and expertise in working with crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) and succulent species and interest in applying synthetic biology approaches to the development of climate-resilient crops.
Internal Number: R0124808
About UNR College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resource
The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is one of four departments within the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources. The department has approximately 400 undergraduate students, 20 graduate students, and 17 faculty members with areas of emphasis in arthropods, human health, and plants. The department has access to modern facilities including cores for Genomics, Proteomics, Bioinformatics, and Imaging.