Latest News

Detlef to debate Renate Künast on October 29

Posted on October 12, 2018

Public debate at DAI Heidelberg read more

Detlef will debate Member of Parliament and former Federal Minister for Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture Renate Künast (Green Party) on genome editing.

Im grünen Bereich?

Monday, October 29, 2018, 8 pm

German American Institute Heidelberg

New plant factors linked to DNA methylation

Posted on October 05, 2018

OA | EFFECTOR OF TRANSCRIPTION factors and DNA methylation read more

EFFECTOR OF TRANSCRIPTION factors are novel plant?specific regulators associated with genomic DNA methylation in Arabidopsis

Tedeschi et al., New Pyhtologist, online September 25, 2018

Plant?specific EFFECTORS OF TRANSCRIPTION (ET) are characterised by a variable number of highly conserved ET repeats, which are involved in zinc and DNA binding. In addition, ETs share a GIY?YIG domain, involved in DNA nicking activity. It was hypothesised that ETs might act as epigenetic regulators. Here, methylome, transcriptome and phenotypic analyses were performed to investigate the role of ET factors and their involvement in DNA methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Comparative DNA methylation and transcriptome analyses in flowers and seedlings of et mutants revealed ET-specific differentially expressed genes and mostly independently characteristic, ET-specific differentially methylated regions. Loss of ET function results in pleiotropic developmental defects. The accumulation of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers after ultraviolet stress in et mutants suggests an ET function in DNA repair.

Congratulations, Dr. Leily Rabbani!

Posted on October 04, 2018

Leily successfully defended her PhD thesis on building and using a genome graph. read more

Congratulations, Leily!

In PLoS Genet: An NLR that modulates ACD6 activity

Posted on September 24, 2018

OA | ACD6 hyperimmunity suppressed by natural alleles of an NLR resistance gene read more

Modulation of ACD6 dependent hyperimmunity by natural alleles of an Arabidopsis thaliana NLR resistance gene

Zhu W, Zaidem M, et al.

PLoS Genet. 2018 Sep 20;14(9):e1007628. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007628

Plants defend themselves against pathogens by activating immune responses. Unfortunately, these can cause unintended collateral damage to the plant itself. Nevertheless, some wild plants have genetic variants that confer a low threshold for the activation of immunity. While these enable a plant to respond particularly quickly to pathogen attack, such variants might be potentially dangerous. We are investigating one such variant of the immune gene ACCELERATED CELL DEATH 6 (ACD6) in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. We discovered that there are variants at other genetic loci that can mask the effects of an overly active ACD6 gene. One of these genes, SUPPRESSOR OF NPR1-1, CONSTITUTIVE 1 (SNC1), codes for a known immune receptor. The SNC1 variant that attenuates ACD6 activity is rather common in A. thaliana populations, suggesting that new combinations of the hyperactive ACD6 variant and this antagonistic SNC1 variant will often arise by natural crosses. Similarly, because the two genes are unlinked, outcrossing will often lead to the hyperactive ACD6 variants being unmasked again. We propose that allelic diversity at SNC1 contributes to the maintenance of the hyperactive ACD6 variant in natural A. thaliana populations.

Now out in PNAS: Epigenetics during clonal reproduction

Posted on September 10, 2018

OA | Phenotypic variation after clonal propagation due to altered epigenetics read more

Partial maintenance of organ-specific epigenetic marks during plant asexual reproduction leads to heritable phenotypic variation

Wibowo, Becker et al.

PNAS, published online September 10, 2018 

While clonally propagated individuals should share identical genomes, there is often substantial phenotypic variation among them. Both genetic and epigenetic modifications induced during regeneration have been associated with this phenomenon. Here we investigated the fate of the epigenome after asexual propagation by generating clonal individuals from differentiated somatic cells through the manipulation of a zygotic transcription factor. We found that phenotypic novelty in clonal progeny was linked to epigenetic imprints that reflect the organ used for regeneration. Some of these organ-specific imprints can be maintained during the cloning process and subsequent rounds of meiosis. Our findings are fundamental for understanding the significance of epigenetic variability arising from asexual reproduction and have significant implications for future biotechnological applications.

Are gene technology and organic farming compatible?

Posted on September 09, 2018

Hear Detlef debate a prominent organic farmer read more

Deutschlandfunk radio: Detlef debates Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein, Chairman of the Board of the Organisation of Organic Farmers (Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft BÖLW). You can listen to the debate here.

(Or download the .mp file here.)


Upcoming Events


MiKo Talk Dana Branzei


Public Debate Weigel Künast

8 pm, DAI Heidelberg

"Im grünen Bereich"


Effie's PhD thesis defense

11 am, U Tübingen
Auf der Morgenstelle 16, Room 7E02

Studying salicylic acid function in natural accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana using CRISPR/Cas technology