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Elucidation and engineering of the biosynthetic pathways of unique diterpenoids

  • Full or part time
    Dr T Pluskal
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, February 23, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Bioactive plant metabolites are an essential source of chemical scaffolds for the development of new medicines. However, their complex chemical structures and intricate stereochemistry often render their chemical synthesis unfeasible. Recent progress in sequencing and metabolomics technologies has opened a new avenue towards heterologous production of plant metabolites using their native biosynthetic enzymes. In this project we will apply these cutting-edge technologies to elucidate the biosynthetic pathways of unique terpenoid molecules in their native plant hosts and engineer them into microbial production systems. Terpenoids represent the largest and the most diverse—but also the least characterized—class of plant specialized metabolites with numerous medical or industrial applications. This project will mainly use biochemistry and molecular biology approaches, with some application of novel computational tools.

How to apply

To apply for a PhD study at IOCB Prague, you must hold a Master’s degree (MSc) or the equivalent of the MSc in similar field (four or five year undergraduate degree). The application can be submitted before obtaining the Master’s degree, however, the applicant should obtain the degree within five months after the application deadline.

For more information visit our website “Call for PhD applications 2020”:

If you decided to apply, please do so online via our application form:

Funding Notes

Regular monthly income of students at IOCB Prague varies depending on the faculty scholarship and supervisor's financial options.


Pluskal, T. et al. The biosynthetic origin of psychoactive kavalactones in kava. Nat Plants 5, 867–878 (2019)

Pluskal, T. & Weng, J.-K. Natural product modulators of human sensations and mood: molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential. Chem. Soc. Rev. 47, 1592–1637 (2018)

Li, F.-S. & Weng, J.-K. Demystifying traditional herbal medicine with modern approach. Nat Plants 3, 17109 (2017)

Pichersky, E. & Raguso, R. A. Why do plants produce so many terpenoid compounds? New Phytol. 220, 692–702 (2018)

Related Subjects

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