Post Doc in Root Architecture and Rhizosphere Processes in the Contexts of Root-soil-fertilizer and Root-root Interactions

University of Copenhagen Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Postdoc in root architecture and rhizosphere processes in the contexts of root-soil-fertilizer and root-root interactions

A 3-year Postdoc position is available at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, with an expected start of 1 June 2023 or shortly thereafter. 

About the position

Plant roots can display several strategies to improve capture of resources from soil, including 1) architectural traits that affect the spatial exploration of a soil volume; 2) adaptive (plastic) responses to zones of high nutrient supply e.g., around phosphorus (P) fertiliser granules; 3) physiochemical alteration of the environment in their rhizosphere e.g., release of protons and exudates such as citrate or acid phosphatase. Conversely, plant roots and their function are also influenced by the soil environment, as well as by roots of neighbouring plants. Much remains unknown about how these interactions affect plant and root growth– in part because they are hard to study in soil directly.

Our aim is to better understand how plant root systems affect exploration for and capture of P from a hotspot, as well as how this is affected by both plant (species, genotype, root architecture, and root traits) and soil chemical properties (across the soil-fertiliser interface). You will 1) conduct plant growth experiments and assist with the development of X-ray computed tomography for in-situ visualization and quantification of plant roots in soil; 2) use a combination of ‘traditional' and ‘advanced’ methods to assess P distribution, speciation and bioavailability; and 3) evaluate plant and root growth and root-root interactions, scaling from controlled and semi-controlled to field conditions. Within this, we will focus on wheat and faba-bean, in pure stand and in intercropping contexts.

As a successful candidate you will be encouraged to actively bring in your own ideas to further shape the research and your scientific profile and network as an independent researcher. Where applicable, the postdoc is anticipated to work together with a PhD student from an affiliated project that focuses on root exudates and rhizosphere processes. The post may also include teaching and performance of other duties.

Who are we looking for?

Applicants must hold a PhD degree in agriculture/agronomy, plant and soil science, soil (bio)geochemistry, biology, or a closely related field, and have interest in fundamental and applied aspects of crop ecology and soil science. In the assessment, emphasis will be put on publication record and relevant work experience. We are seeking a highly motivated and ambitious individual with good interpersonal and communication skills. We will prioritize applicants with a mix of the following or closely related competences:

  • strong knowledge about plant-soil interactions including root growth, root architecture, and root traits.
  • understanding of soil (bio)geochemical processes with special emphasis on phosphorus dynamics and rhizosphere processes
  • understanding of plant-plant and root-root interactions in pure, mixed and/or intercropping contexts.
  • practical experience in design, planning and conducting glasshouse and field experiments with plant-soil systems incl. plant and root measurements.
  • practical experience in with soil analyses e.g. sampling techniques, wet chemistry, bio-chemical imaging
  • knowledge about and experience with statistical data analysis
  • fluency in spoken English and high proficiency in academic writing.

Experience with X-ray CT and quantification of imaging data, computer programming or neural network computing etc. can be an advantage but will not be decisive for the assessment, provided candidates have a curious mind-set and demonstrable ability to learn new skills. Similarly, candidates are encouraged to document any experience with potentially relevant techniques such as (but not limited to) diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT), laser ablation-ICP-MS (LA-ICP-MS), X-ray fluorescence mapping (XFM), X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), planar optodes, raman and infrared spectroscopy, microdialysis, zymography, and the use of isotopes.

Our group and research- and what do we offer?

The successful candidate will be anchored in the Belowground Crop Ecology group in the Crop Sciences section within the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen ( We are located at the KU Taastrup campus. Our research group focuses on interactions belowground between roots and the surrounding environment, contributing to the development of resilient cropping systems with efficient resource use. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment. Our research facilities include modern laboratories, growth facilities (greenhouses, climate chambers), and specialized infrastructure to investigate plant roots and their interactions. Being part of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and faculty of Science, we also have access to state of the art instruments and a wealth of methods relevant to plant-soil interactions.

Further information on the Department is linked at Inquiries about the position can be made to tenure-track assistant professor Frederik van der Bom, Department of Plant and Environmental Science, E-mail:, Direct Phone: +45 35 33 71 28.

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

Terms of employment

The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff.

Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.

Negotiation for salary supplement is possible.


The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format:

  • Cover letter/ Motivation letter (max. 1 page)
  • Curriculum vitae incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position (max. 3 pages)
  • Research plan: a short description of your research interests and experience, including your suggestions for how the project aim can be approached (max. 1 page, cited literature excluded)
  • Diplomas (Master and PhD degree or equivalent)
  • Complete publication list including a short description highlighting 2 particularly relevant papers publications including a description of your own contribution, novelty, impact of research and relevance for the project (max. 1 page)
  • Separate reprints of the 2 particularly relevant papers

Applications with missing documents will not be considered. 

The deadline for applications is Sunday 2 April 2023, 23:59 GMT +2

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee.

You can read about the recruitment process at

Interviews will be held as soon as possible after the application deadline. 


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Frederik van der Bom


Application deadline: 02-04-2023
Employment start: 01-06-2023
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences