Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Background: Host preference and performance of insect pests on plants are tightly linked to host quality (primary plant chemistries) and inducible host defense mechanisms (secondary plant chemistries). In turn, insect populations have evolved mechanisms to counter these host defense chemistries. At the center of these counter-defense mechanisms are diverse and species-specific repertoires of salivary gland (SG) proteins that are secreted during salivation and feeding that modulate or dampen host defenses in such a way to significantly enhance colonization (“effector” proteins). The repertoire of SG-enriched proteins is virtually unknown for one of the most important crop pests and plant-virus vectors, the western flower thrips (WFT) (Frankliniella occidentalis). The plant-pathogenic tospovirus, Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), is transmitted by WFT in a persistent propagative manner, whereby the virus replicates in the salivary glands prior to inoculation into the plant during thrips feeding. Two questions drive our research: 1) Does TSWV infection of thrips SGs modify the abundance or composition of the repertoire of SG-enriched proteins in thrips, and 2) do TSWV-responsive SG proteins modulate the ability of the plant to respond to herbivory or the insect to perform and reproduce on the plant host?

Job Description: The Rotenberg Lab in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at NCSU is seeking a postdoctoral researcher to design and conduct plant-virus-insect experiments to determine the effect of TSWV on the SG proteome and secretome of Frankliniella occidentalis AND to perform functional studies to determine the role of virus-responsive SG proteins on thrips-plant interactions (effectors). The candidate will be expected to 1) perform virus acquisitions assays and microscopic dissections and preparation of thrips salivary glands for discovery proteomics, 2) collaborate on testing methods for isolation of thrips saliva for proteomic analysis, 3) collaborate to design, clone and launch transient expression constructs of candidate salivary gland proteins in plants and evaluate plant and insect response, 4) analyze data and write manuscripts, and 5) train an undergraduate student to assist in experimentation.

Qualifications: PhD in Entomology or Plant Pathology with an emphasis in Vector Biology and/or Molecular-Plant-Insect-Interactions. Required qualifications are hands-on experience with 1) designing and performing experiments with insects and plants; 2) microscopic dissection of insect tissue systems; 3) performing plant and insect molecular biology techniques, including nucleic acid and/or protein isolations, cloning and designing transient expression constructs, and real-time quantitative RT-PCR. We are searching for an independent researcher with excellent scientific and writing.

Preferred Qualification: 3 years of experience with required qualifications listed for this position; hands-on experience with arthropod crop pests or vectors of plant viruses, training in plant biotechnological techniques, gene cloning and plant transient expression techniques, skills in insect tissue analyses, and classroom-training and/or research experience with applied bio-informatics of transcriptomic or proteomic data sets.

Required License or Certification: Valid NC driver’s license or the ability to obtain within 60 days of start.

Application instructions: Please visit to submit your application on-line. Complete applications must include cover letter, curriculum vitae, and contact information for references. Note: Cover letter should include timing of availability and description of how your research interests align with the position description.

Review of applications will begin 10/15/2018.

Job Type: 
Job Listing Expiration: 
60 Days
Company Name: 
North Carolina State University, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology
North Carolina
United States