Crag News

Nine AGenT postdoctoral fellows join CRAG in the first call

The second call of this ambitious initiative is currently open, offering ten fully-funded postdoctoral positions to conduct multidisciplinary and intersectoral research projects at CRAG
Eight of the nine AGenT postdocs
Eight of the nine AGenT postdocs

Nine young talented researchers have joined CRAG in the first call of the AGenT (Agricultural Genomics Transversal) postdoctoral training programme, an ambitious initiative funded by the highly competitive H2020-MSCA-COFUND 2019 Call designed to conduct multidisciplinary and intersectoral research projects in conjunction with associated partner organizations. The second call of the AGenT programme is currently open, offering ten fully-funded postdoctoral positions to develop research projects at CRAG.

Selected among nearly sixty applicants, the nine postdoctoral researchers that have already joined CRAG’s AGenT programme come from across Europe, Asia and South America, adding up to the Centre’s diverse and international environment. Devoted to translating the results of its leading-edge research into benefits for society, CRAG provides a stimulating and nurturing ground for fellows to develop their training both in specific research areas and in transferable and transversal skills, to cultivate secondments and research collaborations, and to set up valuable networks in the academic and the industrial sectors.

Expanding from nutritional value improvement to adaptation to extreme temperatures, AGenT postdoctoral fellows’ multidisciplinary and intersectoral research will contribute to the advancement of scientific topics of high social impact essential for the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


Meet the nine AGenT postdoctoral fellows and their research project lines:

  • Natalia Achkar (Argentina) studies Nicotiana attenuate to understand the mechanisms this desert plant uses to respond, adapt and benefit from extreme temperature changes during a diurnal cycle (more than 30°C of variation), leading to potential commercial applications for vegetation and crop agriculture.
  • Benoit Daubeck (France) will identify the essential genes controlling Ralstonia solanacearum fitness in resistant or susceptible tomato plants at different temperatures, which can be targeted to fight against crop diseases caused by such phytopathogenic bacteria.
  • Diana Duarte (Colombia) will use the TILLING by sequencing method in order to identify and validate mutations in cannabis plants with variations in genes that are related to agronomic traits and to metabolites that are useful for medicinal research.
  • Weina Hou (China) aims to generate tomato and melon crops resistant to Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) by editing the genes involved in CMV transport pathways using the last advanced CRISPR/Cas technology. These new genotypes will be resistant to CMV and potentially to related viruses that share the same infection pathways.
  • Natalie Laibach (Germany) investigates sorghum's nutritional and metabolomic performance under adverse climatic conditions to develop crops for a climate-smart agriculture via metabolic engineering approaches.
  • Alvaro Larrán (Argentina) aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of the molecular pathways that secure Arabidopsis development through VAL-mediated epigenetic repression, while exploring the potential of VAL for the development of innovative plant gene silencing technologies.
  • Alfonsina Milito (Italy) studies the green microalgae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and the establishment of high-performance strains under high light, searching for this alga to be more efficient to produce value-added compounds such as biopharmaceutical proteins.
  • Fernando Navarrete (Uruguay) will generate high-impact knowledge in plant immunity using the economically relevant rice-Magnaporthe oryzae pathosystem to tackle the questions of how monocots translate molecular pathogen recognition into immune cell death and how dying cells communicate with their neighbours to help activate defences systemically throughout the plant.
  • Antonia Noce (Italy) aims to elucidate the transcriptional control of lactation in goats by combining data obtained with epigenomics (ATAC-seq and bisulfite sequencing) and transcriptomics (small and long RNA-seq) approaches.