Doctoral students recruited from around the world will be plant scientists to tackle significant agricultural challenges

EpiSeedLink’s fellows will be trained to become plant scientists with a broad range of scientific and transferable skills to tackle major agricultural challenges, and to enhance their career perspectives in both academic and non-academic work environments.

Paolo Lucas Rodrigues Silva, Brazil

PhD position 1 in Plant Proteostasis and Epigenome Dynamics

Novel histone modifications promoting seed priming and drought tolerance.

Supervisor Vicente Rubio

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and Biotechnology (2018) and a Master’s in Genomic Sciences and Biotechnology (2020), at the Catholic University of Brasília (UCB), Brazil. I have experience in microalgae physiology, molecular microbiology, and plant biotechnology (mainly using RNA interference (RNAi), Cry toxins, and CRISPR), acquired as an Undergraduate Research Project and during my master’s degree in the Plant-Pest Molecular Interaction Laboratory at Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology. My interest is to be able to teach everything I have been learning and discovering as a university professor. In this way, as a Ph.D. student in the EpiSeedLink program, I look forward to expanding my knowledge and skills in studies involving plant science. As a PhD student in the EpiSeedLink programme I intend to broaden my knowledge and expertise in the field of epigenetics and plant stress physiology. My future goal is to be able to write and lead scientific projects and communicate my passion for science and knowledge to people.

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Carlos Gámez-Álvarez, Spain

PhD position 2 in Hormonal Regulation of Transcriptional Dynamics 

DELLA-dependent chromatin features during seedling adaptation to drought.

Supervisors David Alabadí and Javier Gallego-Bartolomé

I hold a Bachelor degree in Biology (2017) and a Master degree in Biotechnology (2018) from the University of Granada.  After my master studies, I moved to Norwich, United Kingdom, to join the Molecular Microbiology team in the University of East Anglia as a Research Technician (2019), where I developed a plethora of molecular, microbiological and biophysical techniques.

After two years at UEA, I joined Tropic (2022), a biotech start-up focused on the improvement of the most important tropical crops through gene editing technologies (CRISPR/Cas9), as a Lab Technician for the Molecular Team where I have been running the RNA pipeline and enrolled with others teams (genotyping or cloning).

I am really excited to join the EpiSeedLink Network and Dr. Alabadí Lab, where I expect to develop new skills and to deep into plant epigenetics.

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Joint Project

DELLA-dependent chromatin features during seedling adaptation to drought

DELLAs are transcriptional regulators that can act on histone modifiers and on the transcription machinery and that are degraded in response to gibberellins (GAs). DELLA activity improves plant’s performance under drought. To better understand the mechanism underlying this role, F2 will investigate if DELLAs modify the epigenetic landscape in response to drought and if they mediate seed priming. We will increase DELLA levels with the GA-inhibitor paclobutrazol (PAC) in oilseed rape and Arabidopsis and with mutants in the latter. F2.O1. F2 will evaluate seedling traits (biomass, photosynthetic parameters) in response to seed priming, drought, and both, with and without PAC-treatment and in DELLA mutants. F2.O2. F2 will examine DELLA-dependent changes in the transcriptome (RNA-seq) in seedlings of both species subjected to drought. F2.O3. F2 will profile H3K4me3 and RNAPII (ChIP-seq) and chromatin accessibility (MOA-seq) to determine the effect of DELLAs in the chromatin response to drought in both species. F2.O4. F2 will define the differential genomic occupancy of the DELLA RGA (ChIP-seq) and its differential interactome (quantitative AP-MS) in response to drought in Arabidopsis. F2.O5. F2 will perform meta-analysis with results from F2.O2, F2.O3 and F2.O4 to infer the mechanisms through which DELLAs operate under drought.

F2.R1. Seedling traits improved by DELLA activity under drought and DELLA’s role in seed priming. F2.R2. DELLA-dependent changes in the transcriptome in response to drought. F2.R3. DELLA-dependent chromatin features triggered by drought. F2.R4. Mechanism for DELLA-dependent regulation of chromatin features under drought.

Martina Curci, Italy

PhD position 3 in Plant Molecular (Epi)genetics

Molecular mechanisms underlying seed adaptation to warm temperature

Supervisors Manuel Piñeiro, José A. Jarillo, Pedro Crevillén

In 2019, I got my bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology at the University of Siena, Italy and in 2021 I got my master’s degree in Agricultural Biotechnology at the University of Catania, Italy; part of my thesis internship was performed at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Sweden, during my Erasmus.

During my internships, I worked on priming for heat stress resistance in tomato, in vitro transformation and regeneration of citrus fruits and molecular characterization of Sicilian and Swedish pear germplasm collections using SSR markers.

After my studies, I obtained a research fellowship at the CREA-OFA in Caserta, Italy, where I worked on various projects such as the diagnosis of phytopathogenic bacteria in fruit trees, morpho-physiological characterization of local fruit accessions, and research into antibiotic substances produced by hazelnut endophyte fungi.

I am interested in doing research and discovering new things. As a PhD student in the EpiSeedLink program, I am looking forward to improving my skills and growing professionally and personally.

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Clarisse Zigue, Portugal

PhD position 4 in Plant Photobiology and Epigenome Dynamics 

Non-genetic phenotypic plasticity induced by light acclimation

Supervisor Fredy Barneche

In 2018, I concluded a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a specialization in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Lisbon. I later did a 6-month ERASMUS+ program internship in Meike Burrow’s lab at the DynaMo Center of Excellence of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, where I worked on a project entitled “Transgenerational inheritance of fitness- related traits and bet-hedging strategies in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana”. In June 2022, I obtained a Master’s degree in Biotechnology for Sustainability (2022) at the New University of Lisbon. My thesis work was developed in Paula Duque’s lab at the Gulbenkian Institute of Science (IGC) and focused on the regulation of the expression of two Arabidopsis Major Facilitator Superfamily transporter genes involved in stress responses. I have experience in plant molecular biology and physiology, as well as confocal and differential interference contrast microscopy. I am interested in molecular biology, epigenetics, and plant stress responses. The mobility offered by the Episeedlink network is very attractive and I am certain this PhD position will allow me to acquire new important skills and build on my current interest in plant epigenetics. 

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Nora Damaris Pasquali Medici de Biron, Mexico

PhD position 5 in Developmental Epigenetics 

Epigenetic mechanisms of the memory to seed osmopriming

Supervisor Sara Farrona

I did my B.Sc. in Engineering in Biotechnology with a specialization in Bioprocesses at the Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM), Mexico. Thereafter I realized that plants sparked my curiosity and obtained a M.Sc. in Plant Biotechnology with a specialization in Molecular Plant Breeding and Pathology from Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Netherlands. During my Master’s I gained experience in new plant breeding techniques with a focus on CRISPR technology and in enzymology. I am passionate about using plant biotechnology to pursue fundamental and applied research focused on guaranteeing global food security. I believe that EpiSeedLink provides the opportunity, as a Ph.D. student, to learn both scientific techniques and interpersonal collaboration skills for tackling relevant issues at a large scale.

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Lei Li, China

PhD position 6 on the Regulation of RNA Polymerase II Transcriptional Elongation 

RNA polymerase II transcriptional elongation at changing conditions

Supervisor Klaus Grasser

I obtained double Bachelor’s degree in Biology science at South China Agricultural University and Agri-environmental science at University College Dublin. Then, I did my Master Program in plant science at University of Copenhagen. I have knowledge of plant molecular biology, genetics, and signal transduction. I have experienced plenty of molecular cell biology and gene editing lab work such as CRISPR/CAS9. I am interested in gene regulation, especially in transcription regulation. As a part of Episeedlink program, I focus on regulation of RNA polymerasetranscription elongation in the group of Prof. Klaus Grasser. I am eager to learn more knowledge and techniques to have successful scientific career.

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Stefania Paltrinieri, Italy

PhD position 7 in Chromatin Dynamics during Germination 

Role of chromatin dynamics in seed germination

Supervisor Aline Probst

I’m Stefania Paltrinieri and I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology (2015) and a Master’s Degree in Agri-Food Biotechnology (2017), both awarded by the University of Verona (UNIVR), Italy.

The research work for my thesis projects revolved around the photosynthesis, physiology and molecular biology (in particular transgenesis and the CRISPR-Cas9 technique) of microalgae and plants, with a focus on photoprotection and its agronomic applications.

After the graduation I acquired experience also on secondary metabolites and plant cell cultures working on a one-year research fellowship at the Metabolomic Laboratory of the University of Verona (2017 – 2018) and working as a Researcher in a Biotech Company (2018-2022).

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Maira Marins Dourado, Brazil

PhD position 8 in Gene Regulation and Epigenetics 

Identification of oilseed rape cis-regulatory elements involved in drought resistance

Supervisor Maike Stam

Website link to the University of Amsterdam:
Website link to the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences:
Website link to group site:

I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and a Master’s degree in Biological Sciences (Biochemistry) at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. Since I was an undergraduate student, I have been studying the Circadian Clock in sugarcane, through a Molecular Biology approach. I first identified the allele frequency of the Circadian Clock genes and, more recently, I have been investigating the differential expression of rhythmic transcripts in different seasons. I aim to research plant response to environmental conditions in the field and teach at the university. I am looking forward to learning new techniques and understanding better the molecular mechanism associated with plant resistance to drought in the EpiSeedLink program.

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Shreyas Padmanabha Sharma Beedubail, India 

PhD position 9 in Biostimulant based seed priming technologies Biostimulant-based seed priming for improved crop growth and stress tolerance

Supervisor Sujeeth Neerakkal

Obtained Bachelor’s degree with triple majors of Chemistry, Botany and Biotechnology, from Bangalore University, at St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous), (2020) Bengaluru, Master’s in Biotechnology, University of Mysore, (2022). I have gained fairly good experience in microorganism and lichen culture and biochemical assays on strain improvement techniques during my bachelor’s project work. I have had the opportunity to get hands on training in high throughput Genotyping (Taq Man chemistry) and molecular techniques in plant DNA isolation (Dellaporta) and purification, using advanced instrumentation facilities during my master’s dissertation work at Bayer Biotech Research Centre, in Bengaluru. I am aiming at materialising my learning into value added service to the farming community across the developing regions in the Globe, in India in particular. As a PhD student in the Episeedlink Doctoral Program, I intend to gain advanced knowledge in the field to serve the future in farming.

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Kingsley Ibeabuchi, Nigeria

PhD position 10 in Dissection of seed priming by Genome-Wide Association Mapping in Brassica napus 

Dissection of seed priming in Brassica napus

Supervisor Ulf Feuerstein

I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Plant Biology in 2018 from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. Afterward, I worked as a Graduate Assistant in the College of Plant Sciences and Crop Production of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria, for about a year where my activities revolved around conventional breeding of maize, phenotyping, and in vitro plant tissue culture. Motivated by my ambition for further studies, I joined the Erasmus Mundus Master’s Program in Plant Breeding (emPLANT) from 2020 until 2022, fully funded by the European Union. This earned me two master’s degrees, an MSc. in Plant Molecular Biology from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden and an MSc. in Plant Genomics and Improvement from Ege University, Izmir, Turkey. In the course of my master’s program, I have developed my skills in phenotyping, R programming, and Galaxy for bioinformatics, coupled with extensive experience in wet-lab techniques such as DNA and RNA extraction, PCR, fragment analysis, gel electrophoresis, KASP genotyping assay, DGE library preparation amongst others. My interest is to establish a selection method that will integrate genomic, phenomic, and transcriptomic data for different traits to predict early vigor in economic crops. Hence, my objective as a doctoral researcher is to further improve my technical and soft skills to be a valuable and indispensable asset as I am keen to combine my practical and theoretical knowledge in any research carried out under the EpiSeedLink project.

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Shannon Skye Derman, South Africa

PhD position 11 in plant reproductive genetics and epigenetics Transcriptomic and epigenomic effects of seed priming on seedling establishment during drought

Supervisor Ueli Grossniklaus

My curiosities as a nature enthusiast led me to an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (Stellenbosch University). I quickly developed a passion for genetics as a means to understand plant biology in its most intricate form. Coming from a wine-producing region in South Africa, I found my niche studying the genetics of grapevine, during which I developed a fascination with genetic manipulation to tailor plants to the human need. After an Honours and Masters degree focused on grapevine genetics and biotechnology (SAGWRI, Stellenbosch University), I started working in a private genetics laboratory (CenGen) deeply rooted in South African agriculture, during which I worked on disease resistance gene cloning in hexaploid wheat. I see the EpiSeedLink journey as an incredible opportunity to broaden my knowledge of plant genetics whilst being part of highly skilled team, to gain professional development as a young scientist and to be embedded in a network of up-and-coming scientist who are as passionate about the field as I am.

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