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Steering Team Plant-Microbe Co-Evolution Flowering Genome Informatics Evolutionary Genetics Ancient Genomicsand Evolution Hybrid Performance and Fitness Tradeoffs

Steering Team

Steering Team

Our department at the Max Planck Institute is a great place for research at the interface of plant biology, developmental genetics and evolutionary genomics. Apart from scientific discoveries, training the next generation of leaders in the field is very important to us. Many former members have established successful careers, and several have won major scientific prizes and awards.

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Plant Microbe Co-Evolution

Plants and microbes form natural communities in the wild. While pathogens impair plant fitness, other microbes co-exist as commensals, yet might facilitate or impede the colonization by pathogens. We study how microbial communities shape the diversity host immune genes in natural populations using metagenomics.

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Evolutionary Genetics

A key question in biology is how organisms adapt to their environment. We take bottom-up approaches to addressing this question by starting with phenotypic differences between naturally occurring strains and uncovering their genetic and biochemical bases.

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Flowering

The induction of flowering is a central event in the life cycle of plants. When timed correctly, it helps ensure reproductive success, and therefore has adaptive value. We are interested in understanding the complex molecular circuitry that integrates endogenous and environmental signals to ensure correct timing of the floral transition.

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Genome Informatics

Large-scale genomics is an essential component of all of our studies. For example, to reveal evidence for selection in an unbiased manner, we are complementing bottom-up, phenotype-first strategies with top-down approaches, where we parse genomes for footprints of past selection. Furthermore, in addition to genome assemblies and resequencing, we have been developing computational tools for the analyses of RNA-seq, ChIP-seq and HiC data sets.

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Ancient Genomics and Evolution

Mining herbaria for plant and plant-pathogen genomes.

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Hybrid Performance and Fitness Tradeoffs

A main reason why it is so difficult to understand selection and adaptation in natural populations is environmental variability, which leads to rapidly fluctuating and often conflicting evolutionary pressures. A prime example is the trade-off between and growth and immunity, which we are investigating both though large-scale genetic and phenotypic studies.

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