[Taxacom] Postdoc position in molecular biology / DNA isolation from museum specimens

Thomas von Rintelen thomas.rintelen at mfn-berlin.de
Wed Jul 29 15:24:54 CDT 2009

Postdoc position in molecular biology / DNA isolation from museum  

Two postdoc positions are available at Wageningen University,  
Netherlands (28 months) and the Museum of Natural History Berlin,  
Germany (30 months) conditional to approval by the funding agency. The  
project is part of a 4 year Joint Research Activity within the  
SYNTHESYS2 programme funded by the European Union FP7 and aims at  
developing efficient DNA isolation methods for the analysis of museum  
specimens and will be integrated within a larger programme involving  
ancient bone studies.

Museum collections constitute a DNA archive allowing us to explore  
genetic diversity in specimens over the last 250 years. They are  
increasingly exploited as ‘ancient DNA repositories’ for DNA based  
systematic and ecological studies, and represent years of collecting  
efforts, often in difficult, complex and remote regions, such as  
tropical rain forests, or ones that have since been disturbed/ 
distroyed by human action. The potential for high-throughput automated  
DNA extraction coupled with recent innovations in DNA sequencing  
technology (e.g., miniaturisation, pyrosequencing) has highlighted the  
need for efficient methods for recovering high quality DNA from  
historical specimens for both evolutionary and diagnostic studies.

We are looking for two postdoctoral researchers with experience with  
techniques in molecular biology, especially the extraction of DNA from  
animal and plant/fungal tissues. The successful candidates should have  
a good background or keen interest in the (bio)chemistry of ancient  
museum specimen DNA preservation, a good understanding of current  
systematic research practice, as well as of data basing. Good  
communication skills, the ability to work independently and to  
interact with different taxonomist/museum communities are prerequisites.

The two projects involve the following:

Plants/fungi (Wageningen)

· Identify the main obstacles to successful DNA extraction/ 
amplification from herbarium specimens.

· Optimise protocols for DNA extraction from old (>70 yr), alcohol- 
preserved, or secondary metabolite-rich herbarium specimens of a wide  
range of plants and fungal clades, with a view to enabling subsequent  
large-scale and high-throughput automation of DNA extraction from  
herbarium material.

· Assessment of post-mortem damage in old herbarium specimens using  
next-generation sequencing

Invertebrates with muco-polysaccharide rich tissue (Berlin)

· Develop and test safer and more effective DNA isolation procedure  
from muco-polysaccharide-rich tissue, mainly molluscs, focussing on  
museum specimens of varying age (5-150 years).

Both projects involve the setup of a web database as an efficient tool  
to disseminate protocols and user experiences.

We offer an intellectually stimulating research environment in some of  
Europe’s largest natural history museums with well-equipped state-of- 
the-art lab facilities, and with partnerships in leading molecular  
systematic labs in the Netherlands, the UK and Denmark.

The position at offer at the Museum of Natural History Berlin will be  
full time at salary level IIa BAT-O (Anwendungstarifvertrag HU  
Berlin). The Museum of Natural History Berlin is an equal  
opportunities employer, applications by qualified women are  
particularly encouraged. Severely disabled applicants with equal  
qualification will be given preference. The position at Wageningen is  
full time at scale 10, and more information can be obtained as  
indicated below.

To apply, please send an e-mail application including CV, PhD  
certificate, diploma, names and addresses of two referees and a brief  
letter of motivation by 22 August 2009 to Freek Bakker (freek.bakker at wur.nl 
  - plant/fungi position) or Thomas von Rintelen (thomas.rintelen at mfn-berlin.de 
  – invertebrate position; please cite job reference number 28/2009),  
who will also be happy to provide additional information.

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