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Le Mans Université searches for a candidate to submit a MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowship in Chemistry of natural products

Le Mans Université The Human Resources Strategy for Researchers
9 Jun 2021

Hosting Information

Offer Deadline
EU Research Framework Programme


Organisation / Company
Le Mans Université (University of Le Mans)
Faculty of Sciences and Technics
Is the Hosting related to staff position within a Research Infrastructure?

Contact Information

Organisation / Company Type
Higher Education Institute
Postal Code
Avenue Olivier Messiaen


In this offer, we search for a candidate to submit a proposal in the 2021 call of MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships (Horizon Europe), with the University of Le Mans (France) as hosting institution. The call deadline is at October 12th 2021. If the submitted project is funded, the candidate will have a 2-year postdoctoral position in the university, starting in the first semester of 2022.

Main discipline: Chemistry of natural products

Secondary discipline: Biochemistry

Keywords: microalgae, purification and extraction procedures, natural pigments, chemical structure characterization

Specific constraints of the position:

  • The candidate must be a postdoctoral researcher, in a possession of a doctoral degree for no more than 8 years (full-time equivalent experience), at the date of the call deadline (October 12th 2021).
  • The candidate must comply with the following mobility rule: he/she must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in France for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before the call deadline (October 12th 2021).

The ideal candidate is a PhD graduated biochemist/chemist with experience in extraction, purification and identification of natural compounds, preferably macromolecules. He/she should be familiar with analytical techniques such as chromatography (HPLC, LC-MS), mass spectrometry and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy. He/she must be proactive, independent, ready to work in an interdisciplinary environment and able to perform teamwork, to exploit the results by writing papers, reports and in oral presentations.


Hosting institution:

The University of Le Mans is a multidisciplinary institution of higher education and research based in Le Mans and Laval. We welcome every year nearly 12,000 students, who are trained in our 3 faculties, 2 Technological University Institutes and our engineering school, in various fields: sciences and technology, literature, languages, human and social sciences, law, economics and management. The courses are based on research work carried out in our 15 laboratories, 8 of which are associated with the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

The postdoctoral position would be based at BIOSSE and IMMM Institutes in Le Mans:

BiOSSE (Biologie des Organismes, Santé, Environnement) is a research unit that hosts ca. 20 researchers, 5 technicians and 20 PhD and postdoc fellows. BiOSSE main research activities concern (1) ecotoxicology, biodiversity and genome adaptation, (2) metabolism, molecular engineering and applications in algae, and (3) biomolecules for animal and human health. The unit has the expertise, equipment and facilities for the work on algae, in particular the diatom genus Haslea.

IMMM (Institut des Molécules et Matériaux du Mans) is the Institute of Molecules and Materials, it hosts around 80 researchers, 30 technicians and engineers and roughly 30 PhD and post-doctoral fellows. The research activities are in four main fields: organic synthesis, polymer synthesis and characterization, inorganic chemistry and physics of the condensed matter. The equipment is managed by engineers and technicians responsible of several technological platforms, so that an important number of instruments and analytical techniques is available.


Project idea:

Microalgae represent new sources of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and high-value molecules such as vitamins, antioxidants, and pigments. The diatom species Haslea ostrearia, producing marennine, a water soluble pigment responsible for the greening of oysters, represents a valuable and renewable resource for natural blue dyes, for use in cosmetics and food industry. However, marennine is not the only molecule of interest, and the sustainable exploitation of Haslea ostrearia and its economical feasibility, implies to use most, if not all biomass fractions. This project will bring complementary and necessary information regarding the overall value of the blue Haslea, i.e., about all biomass fractions and compounds that can be extracted, a prerequisite before the future development of a biorefinery strategy. Furthermore, new Haslea strains have been recently discovered, both colored or not, so the study of the compounds of interest that can be issued is relevant and will also be considered if time permits.

The ongoing elucidation of the molecular structure of the pigment marennine shows that it possess a glycosidic backbone connected to a chromophore group. As the pigment changes its color depending on pH and redox state, in line with the most recent advances regarding marennine redox properties, an objective of this project is to investigate the potential of this pigment to be used as sensing element in devices such as captors or sensors, to detect pH changes in food, or the presence of oxygen in a container of stored food. In case a Horizon Europe grant would be obtained, a last objective of the project will be to characterize the protein and carbohydrate fractions of Haslea biomass, about which only little is known, in comparison with the lipid fraction. The requested expertise will be provided by a project partner in Université Laval (Québec City, Canada).

If the project is funded, the candidate will work in Le Mans (France), with an interdisciplinary team of biologists, chemists, and physicists, and will move for secondment in a SME and in another university outside France.

Pr Jean-Luc MOUGET will be the scientific coordinator of the project. He is professor in Biology and physiology of microalgae. He is currently supervising 2 PhD students at UM, and has supervised/co-supervised 5 postdoc and 7 PhD students. He has been a member of the jury of 2 HDR and 10 PhD thesis dissertations. Pr Mouget has published more than 70 international peer-reviewed publications and 5 book chapters, has obtained two patents, and he is internationally recognized for its expertise in the ecophysiology, biology and biodiversity of the microalgal genus Haslea. Furthermore, Pr. Mouget has a long experience in the coordination of European projects, with the FP7 BIOVADIA (2011-2015) and the H2020 GHaNA (2017-2021). Both projects were developed to get a better knowledge about confidential microalgae with a great potential of applications, the genus Haslea, in particular concerning their specific pigment marennine, with applications as bioactive and antimicrobial compound, or natural blue dye. Pr. Mouget also coordinated 5 PHC and co-coordinates, or participates in different fundamental or applied-oriented research projects supported by the Région Pays de la Loire, e.g., AMI (2015-2020), or EpiSAVMEN (2016-2021), aimed at developing research and training in microalgae, and in epigenetics in new model organisms, respectively.

At IMMM Dr Pamela Pasetto will be the scientific coordinator, she works in a Polymer Chemistry lab and has expertise in the synthesis and characterization of biobased polymers. She has been involved in this project since 2015, co-coordinating the work of three post-doctoral researchers and three second year master students, and participating to the European project GHaNA (2017-2022) by going on secondment herself.

Main Missions and Activities

- Participate in the extraction and purification procedure of microalgae supernatant and other compounds

- Complete the study of marennine chemical structure and identify the nature of the chromophore and its bond to the glycosidic backbone. The work will be carried out on the entire molecule and on the fragments obtained by chemical and enzymatic hydrolysis, and will be extended to marennine-like pigments produced by other blue Haslea species

- Study of marennine and marennine-like pigment physico-chemical properties (colorimetric properties, stability in formulations) in view of the applications in the food and cosmetic industries

- Going on secondment and performing intersectorial research work in a SME

Associated Missions and Activities

- Writing research, data, and review papers

- Presenting at international workshop

- Training younger researchers


Application package:

CV, cover letter, summary of the PhD thesis and other relevant experiences are to be sent before 9th July 2021, only by email to:

Prof. Jean-Luc Mouget, Biologie des Organismes, Santé, Environnement Le Mans Université, Avenue Olivier Messiaen, 72085 Le Mans cedex 9, France

e-mail:, phone: +33 (0)2 43 83 32 42

Dr. Pamela Pasetto, Institut des Molécules et Matériaux du Mans, UMR CNRS 6283, Le Mans Université, Avenue Olivier Messiaen, 72085 Le Mans cedex 9, France

e-mail:, phone: +33 (0)2 43 83 33 35