Postdoctoral position investigating truffle reproduction


One-year postdoctoral research position in Tree-Microbe Interactions :
Unraveling sexual reproduction of truffles using Ascobolus immersus as a test model

A one-year postdoctoral fellowship is available at the INRA Nancy-Lorraine Center (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) in France. This position is being offered within the framework of the ASCOTUBE project funded by LabEx ARBRE and conducted in partnership with researchers from INRA (Nancy), Université Paris Sud and CNR-IBBR, Perugia (Italian National Council of Research, Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources).


The ASCOTUBE Project :

Context — Truffles are ectomycorrhizal fungi naturally found in France and Lorraine. Several truffle species produce fruiting bodies appreciated for their organoleptic qualities. Ascobolus immersus is a fungal species, used as a model organism, belonging to Pezizomycete, an early diverging lineage of Pezizomycotina. While the genomic resources in this class have increased, genetic tools are still lacking for most of the species, such as truffles. As requested by truffle industry, a better understanding of the sexual reproduction of truffles is critical to improving their production. Since A. immersus can be genetically modified and can complete its sexual cycle under laboratory conditions, we believe that it could be a model system to address fundamental questions concerning Pezizomycetes, such as recognition between strains of opposite mating types within and between Tuber species.

Objectives — The principal objectives of the AscoTube project are 1) to use A. immersus as a model species to address fundamental questions on truffles, and 2) to gain a better understanding of truffle sexual reproduction in situ.

Approach — The AscoTube project involves several active partners: French research teams (IAM, I2BC), Italian academic research teams (CNR-IBBR), truffle industry associations (FFT) and one privately owned company (ALCINA). A. immersus will be used as model species to study the genetic mechanisms underlying recognition between strains of opposite mating types in Tuber spp. This in vitro approach will be complemented with in situ experiments aimed at detecting and following the dynamics of both mating types.

Expected results and impacts —We anticipate that the proposed approach will provide important knowledge on truffle sexual reproduction and will confirm the function of bioinformatically annotated gene models. Expected main outcomes will be new tools for basic research, a deeper understanding of truffle sexual reproduction and new policy recommendations if outcrossing between different truffle species can be demonstrated (e.g. between black European and Chinese truffle).



The position :  The successful applicant will work for a joint project (ASCOTUBE) between INRA Nancy-Lorraine, the Université Paris Sud and the CNR- IBBR, Perugia.  The principal aims of the ASCOTUBE project are to (1) use A. immersus as a genetic model species to assess the truffle strains recognition in vitro and (2) to better understand truffle reproduction in situ.

Responsibilities include:

  • setting cassettes and transform A. immerus with mating type genes from both T. melanosporum and T. indicum, previously identified by means of genomic and genetic tools;
  • testing the intra- and inter-specific recognition of these genes;
  • following the dynamics of strains of different mating types in the soils of a truffle plantation, in the root system and in the fructification.


  • PhD in Microbiology or Molecular biology or related science.
  • Experience working in molecular genetics, molecular biology, as well as knowledge of fungal genetic transformation, soil DNA extraction and quantitative PCR, will be a further advantage.
  • Able to communicate in English with other members of the labs/project.

Employer : INRA Nancy-Lorraine
Department & Research Team:  Joint Research Unit for Tree/Microorganism Interactions (IAM)

Contract duration : 12 months
Place of work:  Nancy, France  /  Orsay, France (a short period)  /  Perugia, Italy (3-6 months)

Salary level:  Postdoctoral salary level determined by INRA and will depend on experience (38.5 hr per week)

The deadline to apply is — March 15, 2016
The position will begin in May, 2016.

To apply — Please contact Claude Murat by email ( and include the following :

  • A letter of motivation describing your research interests and background
  • A detailed CV
  • Contact details for three references


Additional contacts:


  • Claude Murat
    INRA Centre Nancy-Lorraine
    UMR 1136
    54280 Champenoux
  • Fabienne Malagnac
    University Paris-Sud
    UMR 9198
    91400 Orsay cedex
  • Francesco Paolocci
    CNR Perugia
    Via Madonna Alta, 130
    06128 Perugia, Italy


Research team publications :