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Plant Molecular Biologist

USDA APHIS Plant Germplasm and Quarantine Program
Beltsville, Maryland, US
Closing date
Jun 13, 2022

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Academic / Research
Informatics / GIS
Salary Type
Employment Type
Full time
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Cooperative agreement with Land-grant University


Department of Agriculture/Plant Pathology

Job Location

USDA-APHIS Plant Germplasm Quarantine Program

Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (East), MD (40 minutes from Washington D.C.)

Position Description:

We seek to hire two highly motivated individuals to work at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center within the Plant Germplasm Quarantine Program (PGQP), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), in Beltsville, Maryland. PGQP is the largest and only federal plant quarantine facility in the United States for the importation of certain plant propagules prohibited from commercial importation. PGQP establishes and maintains foreign germplasm and cultivars under appropriate safeguarding conditions, conducts validation tests for pathogen identification, implements therapy if necessary, and distributes plant propagules free of exotic and destructive pathogens.

This position provides a unique opportunity to be part of a growing team working at the front-end of HTS-based diagnostics of plant viruses with strong bioinformatics capabilities, access to an in-house Illumina sequencer, laboratory equipment, and greenhouse infrastructure. This position also offers the opportunity to participate in the detection, discovery, characterization, and reporting of viruses and other pathogens that may be harmful to US agriculture and natural environments. The incumbent will also be involved in the development and validation of diagnostic methods for known as well as novel viruses. The incumbent is also expected to author technical documents including Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), Work Instructions, Technology transfer instructions, protocols, posters and abstracts for professional meetings, and manuscripts for peer-review.

The incumbents will be applying diverse molecular biology and high-throughput sequencing (HTS) technologies for the detection of plant pathogens of quarantine and regulatory significance in imported germplasm; applicants should have documented knowledge and experience of using different PCR and HTS technologies, among others. Experience in pathogen detection and diagnostics is preferred. A minimum of three years of proven experience in applying molecular biology and genomics tool for the detection and characterization of plant pathogens (preferably plant viruses) is also desirable.

Minimum three years of experience using a wide range of molecular biology techniques including isolation of various types of nucleic acids (total RNA, small RNA, genomic DNA, dsRNA, etc), RT-qPCR, digital PCR, primer, and probe designing, multiplexing, etc. Preference will be given to people with plant molecular pathology experience.

Qualifications Required: M.Sc. in Life Sciences, Plant Pathology, Molecular Biology, or related field. Must have proficiency with molecular biology techniques, be familiar with HTS procedures, experience working with multiple sequencing platforms, and be capable of troubleshooting molecular biology techniques.

Applicants should be either US citizens or legal permanent residents

Salary: $45,000 to $50,000 per year plus benefits

Application deadline: as soon as the positions are filled

Applicants are subject to a criminal history investigation, and employment is contingent upon the institution's verification of credentials and/or other information required by the institution's procedures, including the completion of the criminal history check.

The hiring of the incumbent will be done through a cooperative agreement with Land-grant University. If you would like to get more information about the position, please send your resume and cover letter to Dr. Bishwo Adhikari ( or Dr. Oscar Hurtado-Gonzales (
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