ETH Zurich
Plant Pathology group
Dr. Andrea Sanchez Vallet and Prof. Bruce A. McDonald

Plant-­Pathogen Interactions

PhD position

Plant Pathology group at ETH Zurich is inviting applications for a PhD position.

The Plant Pathology group of ETH Zurich is multidisciplinary team that encompasses several research areas including evolutionary biology, ecology, population genomics and molecular biology. The molecular biology team led by Andrea Sanchez Vallet aims to understand the molecular mechanisms that enable necrotrophic pathogens to infect plants and also seeks to understand how host-­pathogen interactions respond to genetic diversity.

Natural infections are often caused by mixtures of genetically different pathogen strains (multi-­infection). Most research projects aim to understand the interactions of individual hosts with single pathogen strains. The consequences of simultaneous infection by multiple pathogen strains for disease development, epidemiology and pathogen evolution remain largely unexplored.

This research project will explore the consequences of multi-­infections on disease outcome and pathogen evolution. Our model system for studying multi-­infections is Zymoseptoria tritici, a major fungal pathogen of wheat that commonly exhibits multi-­infection in nature. Extensive knowledge of Z. tritici population genetics and genomics, transcriptomics and infection processes has already been developed in our labs and will provide the tools needed to study the interaction between different pathogen strains within the wheat host.

This research project has three main objectives:

  1. Determine the effect of multi-­infections on disease development and epidemiology.
  2. Characterize how growth patterns in planta are affected by multi-­infections compared to mono-­infections.
  3. Characterize the molecular mechanisms underlying strain interactions in multi-­infections.
  • We seek highly motivated individuals interested in host-­parasite interactions.
  • The successful candidate should have experience in molecular biology, confocal microscopy and bioinformatics.
  • Experience in microbiology is desired.
  • The candidate should hold a BSc or MSc degree in plant science, microbiology or plant pathology.
  • Good communication skills in English are required.

The application should include:

  • A motivation letter describing your research interests and your personal rationale for applying for this PhD position. In addition, it should include an outline of your relevant current knowledge and skills, indicating how these will be useful for the research project (max. 300 words).
  • A detailed CV that includes all relevant experience.
  • Official transcripts (in English) of your higher education qualifications.
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of two referees.

Supervisors: Dr. Andrea Sanchez Vallet and Prof. Bruce A. McDonald
The application should be submitted as a single pdf-file to Andrea Sánchez Vallet (

Applications can be submitted before 15th November 2017.

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