Fellowship Position in Investigation of a Novel Glycerol Biosynthesis Pathway in Candida Albicans

Catholic University of Leuven Department of Biology


The Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology is part of the department of Biology of KU Leuven. The lab is also part of the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology. You will be a PhD student in the group where there are on average about 12-14 PhD students, two to three postdocs and three technicians. You will also be supported by ICT and administrative personnel. This is an international group, so the language in the lab is English.


The main research topic in the lab is human fungal pathogens with a focus on Candida species. Also the interaction with bacteria and the host are investigated. The main objective of this project is to demonstrate a novel pathway for glycerol biosynthesis in the human fungal pathogen C. albicans and to show the contribution of this glycerol pathway for biofilm formation and virulence. Over recent years, it became clear that the accumulation of glycerol contributes to the virulence of this pathogen. First of all, its role as osmolyte contributes to the turgor that is required in hyphae to penetrate tissues. Also during biofilm formation glycerol and trehalose biosynthesis pathways are important. The classical pathway for glycerol biosynthesis is the one where glucose is converted to DHAP in glycolysis and this triose-P sugar is then converted into glycerol via the intermediate molecule glycerol-3P. However, the expression pattern of glycerol biosynthesis enzymes does not completely match the glycerol content during biofilm formation. Recently, we characterized enzymes (in S. cerevisiae) involved in an alternative pathway for the production of glycerol where DHAP is first dephosphorylated to DHA, which is then converted to glycerol. This putative pathway has been mentioned in textbooks for over 20 years but the enzymes involved where not known. In S. cerevisiae, we have now strong data that the newly characterized enzymes are the specific phosphatases for DHAP. As glycerol is such an important molecule for virulence, in this project we want to understand the role of this new pathway for virulence of the human fungal pathogen C. albicans (an possibly also in other Candida species). As part of this project we aim to understand the metabolic connection between glycerol and trehalose metabolism as we have observed a genetic interaction between the two pathways in S. cerevisiae.


- You recently obtained your masters degree in Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Biology, Bioscience Engineering, Biomedical sciences or similar studies with high scores.

- You are very highly motivated and enthusiastic
- You preferentially have experience in microbiology, especially with human fungal pathogens
- You have the Felasa B certificate allowing you to work with animals
- You have strong molecular biology background with hands-on expertise in cloning, transformations, preferentially CRISPR-cas9, 
- You can work with various relevant software packages and have strong background in statistical analysis of biological data
- You are fluent in English, both in writing and talking. 
- You are a team player


We offer you a two years taxfree fellowship, that can be prolonged or another two years. Funding is provided by FWO through a granted research project. Fellowships are around 1900 euro/month. 


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Patrick Van Dijck, tel.: +32 16 32 15 12, mail: patrick.vandijck@kuleuven.vib.be.

You can apply for this job no later than July 15, 2020 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: July 15, 2020
  • Tags: Bio-ingenieurswetenschappen

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