The Netherlands: Phd Studentship, How Mushrooms Feed on Sugars, Wageningen UR (University & Research Centre)

Phd Studentship, How Mushrooms Feed on Sugars, Wageningen UR (University & Research Centre), The Netherlands

Vacancy number AFSG-FCH-0003

We are looking for
A PhD student for a STW project aiming at the characterization of polysaccharides involved in the process of composting and growth of the white buttom mushroom Agaricus bisporus. Enzymatic conversion processes will be monitored and enzyme resistant carbohydrates will be identified.

The white button mushroom Agaricus bisporus is produced and consumed at large scale. It is produced on compost of straw and horse manure. The process of composting and growth of the white button mushroom is nearly a black box. It is not known which carbohydrate components are converted (and which are not) and when this takes place in the process. The need for this kind of information is exemplified by the fact that up to 25% of the compost is not converted into fungal biomass.

The aim of this project is to understand and improve the degradation of the carbohydrates in the substrate during composting and growth of the white button mushroom. This will be done by the characterization of the glycosidic substrates in the various states of the growing process. Enzymes involved in substrate degradation will be biochemically characterized and tested for their action towards isolated Agaricus enzyme-resistant carbohydrate structures in order to find solutions to improve substrate conversion.

The PhD candidate will make use of advanced (bio)chemical methods to isolate and characterize polysaccharides and enzymes. Resistant oligo-and polysaccharides will be analyzed/identified using various forms of analytical and preparative chromatography and Maldi Tof/Tof MS, GC-, LC- and CE-MS and NMR-techniques. The PhD candidate will closely cooperate Fungal Biodiversity Center (CBS) and Utrecht University and with industrial partners participating in the project.

The candidate should have a MSc in Food Technology / Biotechnology / Molecular Life Sciences.Experience with analytical and preparative chromatography, mass spectrometry and enzymology adds to the suitability of a candidate for this post. The suitable candidate likes to work on the interface of chemistry and biochemistry and technology. The candidate should be able to work in a multi-disciplinary group and have excellent communicative and analytical skillsand is required to be fluent in English, both speaking and reading/writing.

We offer
We offer you a temporary position for a period of 1.5 years with extension of 2.5 years after successful evaluation. Gross salary per month € 2.042,- in the first year rising up to € 2.612,- per month in the fourth year.

We not only offer a competitive salary but also good (study) leave and a pension of the ABP Pension Fund.

Wageningen UR uses a so-called cafeteria model (Optare) that makes it possible to vary the conditions of employment.

We think it is important to have a good balance between work and private life. Depending on the specific job and working place, this balance can be made possible in various ways, for example, flexible working hours, working part time or the possibility of taking sabbatical leave.

For more information about the project please contact Dr. Henk Schols, phone +31(0)317-48 22 39.

For information about the contractual aspects please contact Mr. Rob van Meegen, HRM-advisor, phone +31(0)317-48 54 66.

You can apply online until December 5th 2010 at or contact by email: AFSG-vacatures[ at ]

The organization
Wageningen University and Research centre (Wageningen UR) is a leading international organization. Within the field of healthy nutrition and living environment we are working on the quality of life. We are always looking for talented colleagues. Professionals with passion who want to work with us for the world of tomorrow.

The Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Group is part of Wageningen UR where fundamental and applied sciences complement each other. As an important European player, we carry out top-level research and work alongside authoritative partners within the international business world as well as the government on “Healthy food in a biobased society”. We have a crucial role in innovations within the market. Entrepreneurship and professionalism are what define us. In short, we are an interesting, international employer of stature.

The Laboratory of Food Chemistry (generates and disseminates knowledge of the molecular properties and interactions of carbohydrates, proteins and phytonutrients within the food matrix during processing. Research is on one hand focused on identifying key components that determine the quality of food raw materials and their processing to ingredients or food products and on chemical changes occurring within these components during storage and processing. On the other hand, research is focused on controlling enzymatic processes that are used during processing of raw materials to ingredients or food products.

By a solid knowledge in this area, the quality aspects of food products can be explained and moreover predicted. Besides this, with knowledge on chemical and biochemical conversions, processes can be controlled to have a more sustainable use of agricultural raw material (less by-products, less use of energy, chemicals and water) than currently in place, and new, high-grade or health-beneficial final products or ingredients can be manufactured.

The Laboratory comprises about 45 people of which 10 permanent staff (professors + technicians) and about 35 PhD students, post-docs and temporarily employed technicians. For its research, the Laboratory is very well equipped with state-of-the-art analytical equipment (MS, CE, HPLC) to study changes in food during processing at a molecular level. This approach is also reflected in its teaching methodology.

For more information:

Acquisition regarding this vacancy is not appreciated.

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