Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Seeking post-doc fellow in Biochemistry

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    05/07/2020 16:30 - Europe/Brussels
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions
    Spain, Tarragona
    Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV)
    International Research Proposal Support Unit

Associate professors, Mª Jesús Torija and Gemma Beltran, established at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) (Tarragona, Spain), are interested in receiving Expressions of Interest of potential candidates for the Marie Sklodowska – Curie Individual Fellowship (MSCA – IF) 2020 call. Selected candidates will receive dedicated support from our group to write a successful proposal.

Our project’s name is “Establishment of microbial consortia for the improvement of wine quality and stability”.

During alcoholic fermentation, yeasts can synthesize, from aromatic amino acids (tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylalanine), compounds of special interest such as higher alcohols and esters, but also some bioactive compounds that can contribute to the quality and stability of wines, such as melatonin (MEL), serotonin or hydroxytyrosol (HT), among others (aromatic amino acid-derived compounds, AADC). This project aims to deepen the potential impact of these molecules on the sensory properties together with their possible antioxidant and antimicrobial effect on wine, mainly in the case of HT.

In previous projects, we have improved our knowledge about the synthesis of these bioactive molecules (mainly MEL) by yeasts during alcoholic fermentation. We could observe that MEL is synthesized by yeasts during the lag or early exponential phase, but there was a gap between intracellular production and secretion to the extracellular medium, during the exponential or stationary phase. Our results showed that during this period MEL is bound to some glycolytic enzymes, only in yeasts with high fermentative capacity. The interaction of MEL with these proteins could suggest the presence of a glycolytic complex, and our hypothesis is that MEL can act as a positive or negative regulator of this complex to channel the flow to the fermentative metabolism.

Therefore, we want to validate this hypothesis, using different yeasts (Saccharomyces and non-Saccharomyces (NS)) and different physiological conditions (fermentation vs. respiration) as well as the use of different yeast mutants, in order to decipher the metabolic role of MEL in yeasts. Likewise, our results also showed that the presence of MEL increased the proportion of NS at the end of fermentation. In addition, contrary to what we observed in individual fermentations, higher extracellular levels of MEL were detected when a mixed inoculum of Saccharomyces and NS was used, pinpointing towards an effect of the microbiota present during fermentation in the synthesis of AADC. For this reason, the main objective of this project is to exploit the great metabolic diversity of yeasts and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) to increase the concentration of these bioactive molecules in wines. Therefore, we will first select the strains with the highest AADC synthesis capacity, to be then used for the design of microbial consortia. In some cases, yeasts will be improved by non-GM techniques in order to maximize this AADC production. In the designed consortia, microbial, metabolic and molecular interactions will be evaluated during fermentation, using different inoculation strategies (inoculation ratios, with and without cell contact). These selected consortia will be tested on a laboratory scale to determine the optimal oenological conditions for increasing the production of AADC in wines. Finally, the impact of this higher concentration of AADC on wines will be analyzed in terms of organoleptic quality and stability (antioxidant and antimicrobial).


For the Marie Curie IF call of 2020, we are looking for postdoc(s) with experience in:

  • protein analysis (protein purification and identification, protein-protein interactions, localization, enzymatic activities) and/or
  • genetic improvement of microorganism, mainly yeast, by non-GMO methods


We are looking for talented and innovative young scientists, strongly committed to high quality frontier research and able to add new insights to the existing URV core expertise. Only candidates with an outstanding record of research achievements and publications in top-quality journals will be considered.

URV as Hosting Institution located at Scientific Campus of Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Tarragona, Spain), has all the technical and scientific facilities for carry out this project.

Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) is well positioned both nationally and internationally due to the Excellence of its research and the commitment and internationally recognised staff. URV is made up of 12 Faculties and Schools, with 24 Departments, which welcome annually 11.400 undergraduate, 1.500 master and 1.200 PhD students (20% of them full time employees). In 2019, it was named World’s 78th Best Young University aged less than 50 years and 401-500 Best University in the World (by Times Higher Education World University Rankings), and 501-600 by Academic Ranking of world Universities. Being the within the top 10% universities in number and impact of its publications is a clear measure of the quality of the research we can offer to the future MSCA-IF fellows.

Testament to the quality of its research is the fact that URV is host for around 100 MSCA fellows, in different programmes (COFUND, ITN, IF), displaying a strong bond to the principles of the MSCA programme.



At the deadline for the submission of the proposals (09/09/2020), researchers:

  • Shall be in possession of a doctoral degree or 4 years of full-time equivalent experience;
  • Must not have resided or carried out their main activities in Spain for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the above mentioned deadline.
  • Must be fluent in English (both written and spoken).



Researchers willing to apply should check that they fulfil the eligibility criteria and then send an expression of interest, consisting of:

  • A Curriculum Vitae
  • A summary presentation of their research proposal / A motivation letter


Expressions of interest must be submitted to uspir@urv.cat (Title of the e-mail “URV- MSCA - IF - Prof. Torija_Beltran”).

Proposals will be pre-selected on the basis of internal evaluation. Candidates will be informed of the results of the pre-selection a week after the deadline.

WEB of the research group: https://www.urv.cat/html/grupsrecerca/reconeguts/general-G796.php


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