PhD scholarship in Evolution of secondary metabolite gene clusters in filamentous fungi at DTU Systems Biology. The section for Eukaryotic Biotechnology, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark, is seeking a candidate for a PhD student position as part of the project “Lateral gene transfer and the evolution of polyketide synthase gene clusters in filamentous fungi” funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research, Natural Sciences (FNU).

Filamentous fungi are prolific producers of secondary metabolites which they use to manipulate and modify their surroundings. A large percentage of the metabolites are bioactive and are important for the fitness of the producing organism in the niche it inhabits. To be able to cope with a diverse and changing environment, the individual fungal species typically produce a unique set of different secondary metabolites. The biosynthetic pathway responsible for the formation of the individual secondary metabolite is typically encoded by a cluster of co-regulated genes in the producer’s genome.
Though fungal secondary metabolism has been studied for over a century, our understanding of the evolutionary forces that shapes the underlying gene cluster is still rudimentary. The current project aims to understand the role and impact of Lateral Gene Transfer (LGT) in shaping the secondary metabolism of filamentous fungi. We are particularly interested in understanding how often LGT of polyketide synthase gene clusters result in the production of new metabolites and what impact these events have on the recipient’s fitness.

Responsibilities and tasks
You will be part of the section for Eukaryotic Biotechnology, but will also interact with other sections of the Department and with international partners of the project. The PhD position has a multidisciplinary nature and thus you will need to draw on the knowledge of several experts to reach the project aims. You will be engaged in identifying candidate gene clusters, using comparative genomics tools. Introducing the gene clusters into Aspergillus nidulans and Aspergillus oryzae using advanced genetic engineering tools. Characterizing the engineered strains with respect to the modification’s impact on both transcriptome (RNAseq) and metabolome (analytical chemistry using UHPLC-HRMS) level. Parallel to these activities, the project also includes an adaptive evolution element where experience with fermentation techniques will be a clear advantage. The project naturally also includes oral and written dissemination of the obtained results, at international conferences and via journal articles respectively.

The PhD project is expected to be initiated October 1, 2015.

Candidates should have a master’s degree in engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master’s degree in engineering.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

The multidisciplinary nature of the project requires that the candidate has a solid background and hands-on experience with cell-biology, biochemistry or molecular biology. An absolute demand is good communication skills in English, both written and spoken. Ability to work independently, to plan and carry out complex tasks, to perform complicated experiments, and to do theory-based data analysis, are also necessary.

The final assessment of the applicants will be made by Assistant Professor Rasmus John Normand Frandsen, Professor Uffe Mortensen.

We offer
We offer an interesting and challenging job in an international environment focusing on education, research, public-sector consultancy and innovation, which contribute to enhancing the economy and improving social welfare. We strive for academic excellence, collegial respect and freedom tempered by responsibility. The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is a leading technical university in northern Europe and benchmarks with the best universities in the world.

Salary and appointment terms
The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the current rules for PhD degree students. The period of employment is 3 years.

The workplace will be DTU Systems Biology, Kgs. Lyngby Campus, DK-2800, Søltofts Plads, Denmark.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from the supervisor, Assistant Professor, Rasmus J.N. Frandsen,

+45 4525 2708


Please do not send applications to this e-mail address, instead apply online as described below.

You can read more about the Department of Systems Biology on

Please submit your online application no later than 2 August 2015.

Applications must be submitted as one pdf file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link “Apply online,” fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one pdf file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master’s degree, but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

Apply no later than 2 August 2015

Apply online

Apply for the job at DTU Systems Biology by completing the following form.