Latest News

Recent WeigelWorld grad Moi to start his own lab

Posted on May 13, 2019

Moi will start his own group at the Carnegie Institution read more

Moi, who obtained his PhD from WeigelWorld last year, will join the Department of Plant Biology of the Carnegie Institution as a staff associate in the summer of 2019. Moi will continue to investigate whether and how plants will evolve to keep pace with climate change by conducting large-scale ecological and genome sequencing experiments. He also develops computational methods to derive fundamental principles of evolution, such as how fast natural populations acquire new mutations and how past climates shaped continental-scale biodiversity patterns. His goal is to use these first principles and computational approaches to forecast evolutionary outcomes of populations under climate change to anticipate potential future biodiversity losses. Moi will also be an assistant professor by courtesy at the Department of Biology at Stanford. For more information see his lab page.

PLoS Biology: The magic of heterosis explained

Posted on April 30, 2019

Emergence of heterosis as intrinsic property of nonlinear trait relationships read more

Nonlinear phenotypic variation uncovers the emergence of heterosis in Arabidopsis thaliana

François Vasseur , Louise Fouqueau, Dominique de Vienne, Thibault Nidelet, Cyrille Violle, Detlef Weigel 

PLoS Biology

Heterosis describes the phenotypic superiority of hybrids over their parents in traits related to agronomic performance and fitness. Understanding and predicting nonadditive inheritance such as heterosis is crucial for evolutionary biology as well as for plant and animal breeding. However, the physiological bases of heterosis remain debated. Moreover, empirical data in various species have shown that diverse genetic and molecular mechanisms are likely to explain heterosis, making it difficult to predict its emergence and amplitude from parental genotypes alone. In this study, we examined a model of physiological dominance initially proposed by Sewall Wright to explain the nonadditive inheritance of traits like metabolic fluxes at the cellular level. We evaluated Wright’s model for two fitness-related traits at the whole-plant level, growth rate and fruit number, using 450 hybrids derived from crosses among natural accessions of A. thaliana. We found that allometric relationships between traits constrain phenotypic variation in a nonlinear and similar manner in hybrids and accessions. These allometric relationships behave predictably, explaining up to 75% of heterosis amplitude, while genetic distance among parents at best explains 7%. Thus, our findings are consistent with Wright’s model of physiological dominance and suggest that the emergence of heterosis on plant performance is an intrinsic property of nonlinear relationships between traits. Furthermore, our study highlights the potential of a geometric approach of phenotypic relationships for predicting heterosis of major components of crop productivity and yield.

Heterosis primer by Diddahally R. Govindaraju

Detlef elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Posted on April 18, 2019

Other new members this year include Michelle Obama & gender theorist Judith Butler read more

Detlef has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This year, more than 200 individuals with compelling achievements in academia, business, government, and public affairs have been elected to the Academy.

The Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good. The Academy’s dual mission remains essentially the same 239 years later with honorees from increasingly diverse fields and with the work now focused on the arts, democracy, education, global affairs, and science.

The 2019 class includes poet and foundation president Elizabeth Alexander (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), gender theorist Judith Butler (University of California, Berkeley), author Jonathan Franzen, and author and former First Lady Michelle L. R. Obama. The 239th class of new members is available at this link.

“While the work of this class includes work never imagined in 1780 – such as cultural studies, cybersecurity, disease ecology, nanotechnology, paleoclimatology, and superconductivity – these members embody the founders’ vision of cultivating knowledge that advances, in their words, a ‘free, virtuous, and independent people,’” said Nancy C. Andrews, the Chair of the Board of the American Academy.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony in October 2019 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and join the Academy members who came before them, including Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton in the eighteenth century; Ralph Waldo Emerson, Maria Mitchell, and Charles Darwin in the nineteenth; Albert Einstein, Margaret Mead, and Martin Luther King, Jr., in the twentieth. Other notable living members are Daniel Barenboim, Judith Dench, Norman Foster, Bill Gates, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, Toni Morrison, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Barack Obama, Martin Scorsese, Twyla Tharp, and Denzel Washington.




HFSP fellowships to two recent PhD graduates

Posted on March 28, 2019

Patricia Lang and Giovanna Capovilla both won HFSP support! read more

Congratulations to Patricia Lang, who will work on "Evolutionary genetics of stomata-related climate change-adaptation through space and time", and Giovanna Capovilla, who will work on "Prochlorococcus cyanophage: lysogenic potential and development of a genetic system".

Congratulations, Dr. Karelina & Dr. Van de Weyer!

Posted on March 26, 2019

A first: Two PhD defenses on one day! read more

Both Anna-Lena and Darya investigated the amazing diversity of NLR genes in Arabidopsis thaliana:

Anan-Lena's PhD thesis is entitled "The pan-NLR’ome of Arabidopsis thalianaGenome-Wide Analysis of Nucleotide-Binding Domain Leucine-Rich Repeat (NLR) Variation Patterns in Arabidopsis thaliana." Anna-Lena used NLR sequence enrichment combined with PacBio long reads to reconstruct the NLR complement in 65 accessions. 

Darya's PhD thesis is entitled "Genome-Wide Analysis of Nucleotide-Binding Domain Leucine-Rich Repeat (NLR) Variation Patterns in Arabidopsis thaliana". Darya used short reads from the 1001 Genomes Project as well as short reads from A. lyrata and C. rubella accessions to examine within- and between- species conservation of NLR genes.

Cell-type specific RNA-seq and ChIP-seq

Posted on March 05, 2019

Identification of new flowering time regulator, MRF1 read more

Phloem companion cell-specific transcriptomic and epigenomic analyses identify MRF1, a novel regulator of flowering

You et al. Plant Cell DOI:

The phloem plays essential roles in source-to-sink relationship and in long-distance communication to coordinate growth and development throughout the plant. Here we employed INTACT coupled with low-input, high-throughput sequencing approaches to analyze the changes of the chromatin modifications H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 and their correlation with gene expression in the phloem companion cells (PCCs) of Arabidopsis thaliana shoots in response to changes in photoperiod. We observed a positive correlation between changes in expression and H3K4me3 levels of genes that are involved in essential PCC functions, including regulation of metabolism, circadian rhythm, development and epigenetic modifications. In contrast, changes in H3K27me3 signal appeared to contribute little to gene expression changes. These genomic data illustrate the complex gene-regulatory networks that integrate plant developmental and physiological processes in the PCCs. Emphasizing the importance of cell-specific analyses, we identified a previously uncharacterized MORN-motif repeat protein, MRF1, that was strongly upregulated in the PCCs in response to inductive photoperiod. mrf1 mutation delayed flowering whereas overexpression had the opposite effect, indicating that MRF1 acts as a floral promoter.


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Fascination of Plants Day

MPI Developmental Biology
Max-Planck-Ring 5
3 to 7 pm

We explore plant diversity on our institute green, and craft insect hotels to attract pollinators. To join, click here.


MiKo Talk Daniel Zilberman


Collaborative Projects: Hybrids-chances and challenges of new genomic combinations

University of Hamburg
June 12-14

Wei Yuan speaking about "Does hybrid have magical properties? - a systematic study"