Research

I am a plant biologist, with emphasis on meiosis and meiotic recombination in plant male meiosis, added aspects from the female side of gametogenesis, and embryogenesis, and also ventured into studying photomorphogenesis due to UV-B, and also mammalian carcinogenesis. What connects some of these seemingly different areas is the involvement of DNA repair factors, my PhD topic, and their basis in chromosome dynamics.

I am interested in bridging disciplines and utilize my broad repertoire of skills in molecular biology, cell biology and bioinformatics, and am always curious to find out even more and dive into new areas.

I loved all aspects of my academic research job –

  • designing projects,
  • digging into literature,
  • experimenting and producing data in the laboratory,
  • discovering novel aspects when analyzing data,
  • writing it up,

and especially training and guiding others in doing all of the above, giving my knowledge and experience on through teaching and mentoring.

Meiosis:

Meiosis stages

Meiosis stages

In meiosis, genomic content is remixed by meiotic recombination, and also halved (e.g. from diploid/ 2n – to haploid/ 1n). Resulting gametes thus have unique genomes, and this is an important basis for phenotypic variability and thus natural evolution as well as artificial selection, i.e. breeding. This makes understanding and manipulating meiosis a great way for investing in our future, to help sustain food supply in an ever-growing and changing world.

 Results and incentives:

Meiocyte collection

Meiocyte collection

I employ a special technique to isolate meiocytes (cells undergoing meiosis) from maize, which I then used in sequencing approaches to tackle their transcriptome and chromatin features (more specifically: mRNAs, small RNAs, DNA methylation, H3K4me3 histone modification). My two most notable findings:

  • Abundance of specific mitochondrial transcripts with/in spite of their polyadenylation (polyA on mitochondrial transcripts is generally transient and targeting for degradation, in contrast to polyA on nuclear transcripts where this constitutes a stabilization event).
  • A hypothetical role of enigmatic small RNAs abundant in meiosis of grasses (phasiRNAs) in chromatin dynamics.

Research directions:

Due to my discoveries and working with different topics, I was in the fortunate situation to be very versatile on my main focus and techniques – allowing me to be a fit for many different job positions and proposal calls, but also to have backup plans to ascertain success. To address the topics below, I pair cell biology with molecular biology, including sequencing approaches and bioinformatics.

My research interests (for now mostly on ice):

  • PhasiRNAs in maize meiosis (external advisor for funded project)
  • Chromatin dynamics during meiosis
  • Role of mitochondria in meiosisMy techniques
  • Dynamics of mitochondria in meiosis
  • Polyadenylation of mitochondrial transcripts
  • Alteration of meiotic recombination by heat
  • Application of altering meiotic recombination patterns
  • Structural maintenance of chromosomes
  • Plant UV-B perception and response (manuscript writing ongoing)
  • RNA modifications in maize meiosis (data analysis and manuscript writing ongoing)

Want to know more? Please check out my publications, conference posters, or contact me!