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2-year postdoctoral position in plant biology on the role of carotenoids in plant adaptation to proximity shade in intercropping agrosystems

ABG-100378 Emploi Junior
06/10/2021 CDD 24 Mois > 25 et < 35 K€ brut annuel
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Saint-Paul-lez-Durance - Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur - France
  • Biochimie
plant biology, (apo)carotenoid, adaptation to shade, environmental stresses
Recherche et Développement


The Bioscience and Biotechnology Institute (BIAM) of Aix-Marseille located in CEA/Cadarache, 13115 Saint-Paul-lez-Durance in the South of France. The Institute is a joint unit run by CNRS, CEA and Aix-Marseille University which has recently moved to a new building (March 2021) equipped with all modern facilities in biology and plant sciences.

Poste et missions

We are seeking for a motivated postdoctoral researcher to work on plant adaptation to nearby vegetation and shade in intercropping agricultural systems and on the role of volatile carotenoid cleavage products in this adaptation. This work is part of the international and multi-disciplinary UToPIQ project funded by PRIMA (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Meditarranean Area). The main goal of UToPIQ is to develop and use tomato lines tolerant to proximity shade to increase yield in intercropping agrosystems.

Intercropping is a conservation agriculture practice that involves growing two or more crops in close proximity to one another. Intercropping promotes biodiversity and enhances crop resilience to extreme environmental changes, but it can also increase crop yields in both low-input (traditional) and high-input (intensive) agrosystems. Development of intercropping is currently limited by the reduced toolbox of crop varieties amenable to this farming practice and by our limited understanding about the biochemical and molecular basis of the communication among plants. The work that will be conducted by the recruited postdoctoral fellow is centered on this second aspect of shade adaptation.

Mobilité géographique :

Pas de déplacement


Candidates with backgound in plant biochemistry and/or molecular biology are invited to apply for this position by sending their CV and motivation letter.

Expertise in metabolomics would be a plus.


Exposure of Arabidopsis plants to proximity shade results in carotenoid degradation which could be regulated by carotenoid cleavage dioxygenases (CCDs). CCD activity produces carotenoid cleavage products (apocarotenoids), some of which regulate plant development and stress responses (Felemban et al. 2019, Havaux 2020). Those carotenoid oxidation products can in turn modulate shade-associated responses such as growth (Ortiz-Alcaide et al. 2019). In particular, volatile β-cyclocitral and derived water-soluble metabolites, such as β-cyclocitric acid, are known to induce the expression of nuclear genes involved in defense mechanisms against environmental stresses (photooxidative stress, drought) and to inhibit gene expression related to development, cell division, elongation and growth (Ramel et al. 2012, D’Alessandro et al. 2018, 2019). Volatile β-cyclocitral is also released by tomato fruits, strongly contributing to flavor and overall acceptability. The main goal of this project is to investigate the role of volatile apocarotenoids, including β-cyclocitral, released by shade-exposed plants in the regulation of the development of neighboring plants. UToPIQ will investigate this potential communication mechanism using tomato and tall intercropping crops such as maize (Zea mays) and millet (Pennisetum glaucum). This research will use physiological, biochemical and molecular biological tools as well as several BIAM platforms (Phytotech, HelioBiotec, …). The results might lead to novel discoveries that will eventually contribute to improve crop performance in intercropping agro-ecosystems.


D’Alessandro S, Ksas B, Havaux M (2018) Plant Cell 30: 2495-2511

D’Alessandro S, Mizokami Y, Legeret B, Havaux M (2019) iScience 19: 461-473

Felemban A, Braguy J, Zurbriggen MD, Al-Babili S (2019) Front Plant Sci 10: 1168.

Havaux M (2020) Plant Physiol Biochem 155: 35-41

Ortiz-Alcaide M et al. (2019) Plant Cell 31, 384-398

Ramel F et al. (2012) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109: 5535-5540 

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