DAGZ > Topics for theses - Abschlussarbeitenbörse

PhD position open in Fungal Genetics and Genomics

Understanding nitrate signaling in fungi

Fungi are one of the most active players in global nutrient cycling, and they can temporarily store nitrate in the soil by converting it to fungal biomass (known as nitrate assimilation process). Fungi therefore play a major role in preventing nitrogen losses from soil.

Despite the clear picture we already have on the regulatory genetic elements driving the nitrogen cycling process in the fungal cell, it is still not clear how the nitrate signal is perceived by the pathway transcriptional machinery. A new project financed by the Austrian Science Fund FWF sets out to study by molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches the NO3- signaling process that leads to activation of the pathway-specific transcription factor NirA. Structural biology work will include expression and crystallization of NirA wild-type and mutant variants and also cryo-EM experiments will be carried out to visualize structure-function relationships with interacting proteins. Genetic approaches are used to find suppressor mutations of regulatory elements and biochemical assays are planned to reveal functionally important intra- and intermolecular interactions. For the structural biology work, we intensely collaborate with specialized laboratories, among them Prof. Papageorgiou from the Turku Bioscience Centre in Finland where a research stay is planned during the PhD work.

If you are interested in the molecular genetics of how fungi act in this highly relevant ecological nitrogen cycling process, have a solid background in molecular biology and biochemistry and you would like to work in our group at a scientifically and socially stimulating working atmosphere, then please apply for this position.

Please send your application containing a motivation letter, your CV and a transcript of records per Email to joseph.strauss(at)boku.ac.at by latest End of May 2024. The position is scheduled for start by 1st of July 2024 and the salary is according to the FWF guidelines*.


Regulation of plant development by O-glycosylation

O-glycosylation of nuclear and cytosolic proteins is an essential post-translational modification that regulates signaling pathways in the course of plant development. In contrast to other glycosylation events, a single monosaccharide - N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) or fucose - is attached to serine or threonine residues of a high number of very diverse proteins. We are studying the effect of this type of protein glycosylation on different aspects of plant development such as flowering time, shoot branching and leaf size.

We are looking for a Master student with background in molecular biology/biochemistry and an interest in plant biology, to study the interaction between two different O-glycosyltransferases and a family of transcription factors. Techniques include yeast-two hybrid assays and co-immunoprecipitation, as well as analysis of reporter-lines to study the effect of O-glycosylation on the function of transcription factors.

Duration: 6 months, starting in September 2022.

Payment: 'geringfügig' (ca. 470 € / month)

The work will take place at DAGZ in Muthgasse 18.

Doris Lucyshyn  e-mail

O-glycan engineering for recombinant protein production in plants

Plants are attractive alternative expression hosts for the production of recombinant proteins. Many therapeutic proteins are glycosylated with N- and O-glycosylation being the most prevalent forms of protein glycosylation. While N-glycans have already been extensively modified in plants towards the formation of homogenous mammalian-type glycoforms with equal or improved biological function compared to mammalian-cell culture produced glycoproteins little attention has been paid to the modification of O-linked glycans. In this MSc thesis project, novel strategies for the production of mammalian-type O-glycans in plants should be investigated.

Richard Strasser e-mail  

Cooperative Master Thesis: What makes Fusarium aggressive? 
Genetic, epigenetic and bioinformatic genomic analysis of different Fusarium graminearum strains with variable virulence on wheat 

Different strains of the wheat pathogen Fusarium graminearum which were cultivated in different labs around the world over several years, were re-sequenced using Illumina high throughput sequencing. Despite the fact that these strains originate from the same original type strain, their descendants show strongly differing phenotypes in respect to growth, reproduction, secondary metabolite production and plant pathogenicity. The aim of the thesis is to identify structural mutations or putative epimutations (in epigenetic regulators) that are linked to the different phenotypes and identifying putative genes or regulatory regions. The majority of work will be done computationally but some wet lab-work will also be required. 

Required skills:

  • Lab courses in microbiology and molecular biology, e.g. MoBi courses LMBT or Lab Course Agricultural Genetics, or equivalent
  • Experience with any Linux OS
  • Any skills in programming, data analysis and/or R are welcome, e.g. as introduced in the courses “Essentials for Bioinformatics Data Analysis” and “Sequencing Data Analysis”
  • Interest in genetics and epigenetics of microorganisms (fungi)

The student will learn how to work on Linux systems with high throughput sequencing data, data handling, genome mapping, variance analysis, genome wide interpretation and visualization of data using free software including R. Additionally, some lab work on fungi will be done.

General information: Travel expenses to Tulln will be refunded. Extension of the student’s engagement beyond the required six months Master Thesis period will be paid by a student employment contract.
Start: as soon as possible (Sept.2019)



Univ.Prof. Dr. Joseph Strauss
Fungal Genetics and Genomics Lab
Department of Applied Genetics and Cell Biology
Campus BiRT-Tulln 
A-3430 Tulln/Donau
e-mail: joseph.strauss(at)boku.ac.at
Univ.Prof. Dr. Heinz Himmelbauer
Bioinformatics Group
Department of Biotechnology
Campus VIBT Muthgasse
A-1190 Wien
e-mail: heinz.himmelbauer(at)boku.ac.at

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