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Postdoc position (molecular biology, plant and/or soil biology, agronomy) to investigate plant and soil determinants leading to innovative nitrogen fertilization

ABG-101133 Job Junior
2021-11-23 Fixed-term 30 Month > €75,000 annual gross
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University of Liège
Gembloux - Belgium
  • Agronomy, agri food
  • Ecology, environment
soil biology, agronomy, molecular biology, nitrogen cycle
Research and Development


The Faculty of Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech is a multidisciplinary and internationally-anchored faculty of the University of Liège (Belgium). The Faculty's infrastructures are diversified: from a few hectares of laboratories and educational spaces in Gembloux, to hundreds of hectares of fields and forests in Wallonia as well as agricultural and forest spaces in tropical regions. Cutting-edge infrastructures such as the brand new Ecotron (https://www.terra.uliege.be/cms/c_4082747/en/terra-ecotron) are also available in the faculty to facilitate innovative research in agriculture and environment.


Position and assignments

The postdoc candidate will work within the project “GAIN”. In previous experiments, various wheat genotypes were screened for their ability to take up nitrogen in the form of ammonium and genetic components responsible for this trait are being characterized. The selected genotypes must now be tested under field conditions to evaluate their compatibility with the strategy GAIN, with a secondary aim to adapt the approach to organic agriculture conditions. Further screening is also needed to identify genotypes from the Belgian wheat catalogue. The scientific activities will imply developing and implementing various bio-assays using microbiology, plant phenotyping (hydroponics and field) and molecular biology to better understand and exploit the mechanisms involved in ammonium nutrition. The recruited person is also expected to help in the overall coordination of the project.

Research activities will be performed at University of Liège, Gembloux Campus (35 min by train from Brussels (Belgium)) in an international established team (Plant Genetics and Rhizosphere Processes) with research focus on 1) improvement of crops and 2) soil and rhizosphere management.

The other partners of the project are CRA-W (http://www.cra.wallonie.be/fr/) and the association Greenotec (http://www.greenotec.be/), both partner institutions collaborating on field trials as well as interaction with stakeholders. The project activities will also be coordinated with other ongoing research projects such as the ERA-NET Catch-BNI (https://www.suscrop.eu/projects-second-call/catch-bni) which aims at implementing innovative cover crop solutions to reduce nitrogen losses.

General abstract of the GAIN project (more information on request):

The project GAIN has the objective to offer multiple and innovative solutions for improved nitrogen fertilization management as well as weed control in order to reduce nitrogen losses and herbicide use in winter wheat cultivation systems. This multi-disciplinary project is particularly innovative by joining expertise from weed control, plant genetics, and soil and fertilizer biochemistry and has the objective to offer solutions compatible with both conventional and organic agriculture. It aims also to value the use of organic fertilizers produced on the farm. The implementation of the GAIN strategy could help reducing: 1) the herbicide use, 2) greenhouse gas emissions and 3) nitrates leaching in groundwater and could also improve the utilization efficiency of organic fertilizers at the field level. In order to identify ongoing and future practices as well as to facilitate dissemination of novel practices to mitigate nitrogen losses, a survey of wheat farmers has been conducted and will serve as a basis for the dissemination and translating tools. Last but not least, demonstration days will be planned for the stakeholders in order to demonstrate the advantages of the developed solutions.

Geographic mobility:



The candidate should hold a PhD and have demonstrated expertise as well as scientific publications in molecular biology, plant nutrition and/or soil ecology/biology. Excellent oral and written communication in English is required. French is a plus.

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